A Guest Worker’s Perspective on H-1Bs

By Samwise

With immigration reform being a central topic in Washington, there’s talk of reforming the H-1B program, possibly increasing the number of visas made available each year. Dice asked me to share some of my thoughts about the program, hence this article. I’m here in the U.S. on an H-1B, currently working as a senior database developer.

Why come to the U.S.?

H-1B Special ReportMany people wonder what prompts individuals to apply for H-1Bs. For me, and most others in the tech industry, the overarching reason is career growth. The United States is still is the best place to work if you’re a software developer, period. I didn’t intend to settle here at the start and I’m still not sure I’ll remain, even though my green card is in-process. My thinking has only been aggravated by the H-1B program’s rules.

Let me start by pointing out some lesser-known facts:

  • First, the visa is granted based on the needs of a specific company, not any one individual. Basically, the company says, “I need this dude, so please grant him a visa.” The problem for the visa holder is that if the company fires you, the visa becomes invalid.
  • If that happens, you have 15 days to find another job. If you don’t, you’re required to return to your native country.

The Special Report:

As you already know, it’s practically impossible to find a job in 15 days. Even if the gods smile on you and you’re successful, you can’t just walk in and start working. The new employer has to file an “H-1B transfer” petition, so your visa can be linked with the new company. This process can take up to three months. For a $1,500 fee – paid either by the guest worker or the employer — the case will be adjudicated within 15 days.

On top of that, if the USCIS decides that your case needs further scrutiny, even more time can pass before you’re fully approved to start.

Think about it. You have a stellar skill set and you can get right to work, but the company may find out three months later that its petition has been denied. What business wants to take that kind of risk? As for you, if the transfer is denied you have to leave the country immediately.

I have personally seen what people in such a situation have to go through – my friend from college was laid off in 2008 from his company. He was desperate to find a job, but was obviously unable to find anything within 15 days. Luckily, his wife was also working on an H-1B, and he was able to obtain a “dependent” H4 visa. He couldn’t work on a dependent visa, but at least he was able to stay in the country with his family.

Others might not be so lucky. Another ex-colleague had bought a house while here on an H-1B. When our company started laying off employees, he sold off the house in a panic, fearing that he might have to leave the country. Though in the end he kept his job, he had already suffered thousands of dollars of losses by selling his house well below market price.

It boils down to this: An H-1B who’s laid off will very likely have to head home. It won’t matter if you bought a house or have kids who are U.S. citizens. This fear forces many H-1Bs to compromise on their career choices, settling for lower salaries and working for the same employer even when it would be smarter to move.

Cheap Labor

Many people believe H-1Bs earn less money than their American-born counterparts. In my experience, this isn’t always true. Many of my visa-holding friends are paid handsomely. However, they got better pay packages only when they were able to leave underpaying employers, which, as we’ve seen, is a risky and complicated process.

That doesn’t mean underpayment doesn’t happen. I blame this on the “bonded labor” nature of the visa: You can’t leave your employer, but your employer can leave you. This means the employee has no choice but to accept the salary being offered.

Getting a Green Card

Most H-1B workers look forward to getting their green card – some friends tell me that you feel like you’re let out of a cage once you do. And not without reason. The green card provides freedom from all the headaches of the H-1B. For example, you can work wherever you want, for whomever you want.

However, getting there is tough, especially for people from China, India and Mexico. There are only a handful of green cards issued every year, on a per-country basis. Since there are so many people here from these three countries, the backlog is huge: It can take up to 10 years to get the documents. Again, this is extremely disadvantageous for employees. Those whose companies sponsored their green card in 2004 are most likely still working for the same employer, often at the same designation and pay scale. Imagine that — nine years at the same place with no promotion and hardly any pay hike.

On top of this, the wait time has no relation to your skillset, education level or experience. You could be a Ph.D., or a co-founder of the next big Internet company. You’ll still need to wait in the same line as everyone else.

Starting a Company

I’ve always wanted to start a company, but because of my visa status I can’t move forward. Technically I can, but the company I start couldn’t hold my visa. So, essentially, I’d have to work simultaneously for my own company and the employer that holds my visa. Combine that with the nine-year wait for a green card, and it’s hard to imagine I can ever achieve my dreams here. Given that the U.S. is the hotbed of entrepreneurship, it’s ironic that the hardest thing for an immigrant to do is start a business.

Is It Worth It?

For H1-1Bs, the program is a mixed bag. You get to work on cool stuff for good money, but you can’t easily move on to the next cool thing and earn more. You get to settle here for six years, buy a house, etc., but it’s a pain to get a green card and permanently settle here if you want to. You get to learn the ins-and-outs of a business, but you can’t start your own. Some of my friends who got their green card back in the 90s, when it took them just a year, are happily settled here and say it was all worth it. Others waited in line for several years, got frustrated and went back home for a job or to start a business. Most others, like me, think it will be worth it and want to further their careers here, but are hampered until the government’s final decisions are made.

What’s the Solution?

Personally, I don’t believe increasing the number of visas is going to benefit employees, though obviously it will help the sponsoring companies. From my point of view, H-1B workers should have the flexibility of working where they want to. The direct effect would be that employers would no longer be able to underpay or exploit guest workers. And, they’d no longer have financial incentives to replace Americans with H-1Bs. It really would become all about filling the skills gaps.

Actually, I don’t think a visa should be linked to a particular company at all. It should be an individual visa, linked to the person not the business interest. To be eligible, individuals should have to meet specific requirements, such as having a job offer from a U.S. company, or at least two years of work experience in a niche field or with an in-demand skill, like Hadoop or Android. Or, they should be experts in their field, recognized via technical publications, patents and the like. Or, a company’s senior executives should certify that you’d be an indispensable asset. Finally, the visa processing time should be shortened to less than a week, so that the individual can start working for the company immediately.

To keep individuals from exploiting the program, the visa fees should be set relatively high and the requirements for listed jobs should be quantified with certifications, salary requirements, years of experience, academic levels and the like. Visas should be granted for six years, during which time the visa holder can work for a company, start their own business or even change professions. After that, they should be required to demonstrate how they’ve excelled in their field by submitting certifications, recommendations and other measurable information. If they succeed, they should get a green card immediately. I think this sort of flexible, individual-based approach would address many of the issues that weigh down the current system.


The H-1B program is often derided as unfair to American workers, but it’s also not an easy path for those who seek to live and work in — and contribute to – the United States. Only thoughtful reform will address the concerns of both sides.

Samwise is a database developer and H-1B worker for a major company in New York. He asked to use his Dice pseudonym in order to speak freely on the topic of H-1Bs.


136 Responses to “A Guest Worker’s Perspective on H-1Bs”

  1. This is a very well-worded, logical article, but I see some inherent flaws in the assumptions.

    1) “When our company started laying off employees, he sold off the house in a panic, fearing that he might have to leave the country.”
    This seems like a foolish thing to buy a house where you might only be there for 3 years on the visa, and given all of the risks attached to the visa. It’s hard to feel sympathy for people who make foolish decisions. When I moved to CA, I rented for almost 2 years before looking at houses because I really didn’t know what part of town I wanted to live in and wanted to get the “lay of the land”. If I had bought a house immediately, it would have been a bad decision because I’d have a terrible commute. It’s always prudent to rent in any new area before considering buying. The military do this all the time because they know their deployments will cause them to move regularly so why buy a house if you only have to sell it?

    2) “You can’t leave your employer, but your employer can leave you. This means the employee has no choice but to accept the salary being offered.”
    Although true that you can’t leave the employer, if you know the wage is low, why take it? Clearly there is something compelling enough that these H-1B’ers would rather be here and suffer the risks than to stay where they are.

    3) “From my point of view, H-1B workers should have the flexibility of working where they want to.”
    Certainly, the currently rules are excessively restrictive. But, of course, companies like it that way so it’s not likely to change since they have money to influence the Congressmen who define the rules.

    4) “It should be an individual visa, linked to the person not the business interest.” This makes sense. The challenge is trying to define the “test” to ensure that people are not cheating to get in. Of course, from what I hear, that won’t be much different from how things are now so this would be a step in the right direction.

    Very good article with lots of things to think about.

    • Samwise

      Yes, that is indeed a foolish thing to buy a house when you’re going to stay someplace for the short term. However, this particular person was in his 8th year on H1B, and he had been staying in the same town since the day he arrived in the US. He had already spent some of the most productive years of his life while waiting for the green card, and wanted to settle down, even though the green card was still a few more years.

      To address another of your points, the reason folks (esp. from India, China) come to the US despite of the initial low wages is because US experience is considered stellar on one’s resume in other countries. Especially if you have worked at a well known company like apple, microsoft, google etc., that opens up many possibilities. Also, if you can find a good employer who is not exploitative, one can reach similar salary levels that are paid to American workers (and also can get laid off with the same frequency). Most people’s aim is to reach that level, which is why they undergo the exploitation from employers.

      About your comment on the status quo not changing about H1B mobility, I agree, it doesn’t look like that is going to change. Especially since there is no body representing the interests of the H1B workers, and there are a ton of orgs representing business interests.

      • Rx_Solutions

        Your personal life aside:
        The President has acknowledged a massive operation for hacking that robs our country of company data. The Identity theft alone on credit cost tens of billions of dollars. H1-B allows Corporations to get massive tax breaks.
        There is absolutely no shortage of workers, the massive tax breaks for corporations is the primary issue. It is not about salary, talent, or shortages.

        A US Citizen could go to jail if they steal data and loose their property.
        What does a H1-B worker stand to loose?
        What is the background check of an H1-B worker? Two of the 911 Terrorist got into the country using H1-B.

        As an American IT contractor, I must maintain a $2M professional insurance policy. Why doesn’t the same background check and bonding apply to an H1-B worker? Deportation to a country to walk the streets in freedom doesn’t mean anything.

        I don’t care if you have a pet cat and want to start a company. The issue is about Responsibility, Security, and Tax Subsidy for wealthy corporations. Address those issues and we have a fair, safe and responsible immigration system.

        • Samwise

          * No H1Bs were involved in 9/11 – I could not find anything on google to support this.
          * Not sure what tax breaks you are talking about.
          * When an H1B worker comes to the US, the government has their passport/all academic marksheets/all tax returns/home address in native country etc. etc. If an H1B worker is caught doing something wrong in the US, he is subject to the **same laws** as any US citizen. He will serve jail term in the US.
          * While you are talking about addressing issues, why not talk about job mobility for H1Bs, ability to start a company, no threat of deportation if you lose a job etc. Aren’t you enjoying all these liberties as a US citizen ? Why, then, should H1B workers not enjoy these.

          • “Aren’t you enjoying all these liberties as a US citizen ? Why, then, should H1B workers not enjoy these.”

            Let’s put this in context. I invite guests to work at my house (for a wage, of course). Should they be entitled to live in my house and to borrow my jewelry etc? I may decide to let them hang out for a while, but when things are done, they need to leave. Of course, I should be allowed to invite them to stay longer, but there should be no expectation of all of the benefits of my home until I choose to give it to them.

      • SAInAmerica

        an H1b visa is only valid for a total of 6 years – initial 3 years, and then renewable for a further 3 years. Thats it. So not possible to be on an H1b for 8 years already

        • Samwise

          You get 3-year extensions if your company has applied for your green card. A majority of workers from China, India stay on H1B for between 5-10 years ….. they get 3 years initially, then get 3 years extension, and then get 3-year extensions every year until they get green card.

      • Joe Blocks

        “and he had been staying in the same town since the day he arrived in the US. He had already spent some of the most productive years of his life while waiting for the green card”

        Seems like he should’ve made better choices than to rely on a guest worker visa turning into a Green Card

    • Well said, and may I ask the following questions, and other readers are also welcome to answer.

      (1) All these U.S. companies claimed that these these “so-called” high tech/skilled foreign workers have the HIGH tech skill that we Americans lack. If that is true, how did they acquire that skill (that we lack) in a third world country or even a second world country like Europe?

      (2) In my opinion, countries having all these TRAINED skill people mean that the country itself is MORE advance in high tech and science than us. If so, where are their Silicon Valley and Advance Science Industries?

      U.S. companies like to hired these “so-called” high tech/skilled foreign workers because they can pay them cheap and they need the H-1B visa to stay in USA, thus they are like slaves to the company, or difficult to leave.

  2. SouthRoad

    Yes a very good article indeed. The only thing that I might add is that a visa holder should always be paid MORE than the pre-vailing wage. The theory is that there is no qualified person here to do the job which means the Visa holder is at a higher skill level and in fact deserves to be paid more.

    If it is not true that the Visa holder is better than anyone they can find here, no Employer in his right mind would go out of his way to hire a Visa holder.

    Paying higher than prevailing wage benefits the company because they are getting a highly skilled person and paying for that skill (obviously they thought he was worth it). It also means the Visa holder gets what he deserves to be paid because he is higher skilled than average, and it protects the Americans because they can never be replaced by a lower skilled worker at a lower wage, nor be forced to train their replacement.

    • Great idea. And one step further: since visa holders often come through a 3rd party agency that takes a good chuck, the contract should guarantee that the WORKER gets the higher pay level rather than the agency getting the higher pay and then still paying a lower wage to the worker.

      • SouthRoad

        Good Point. In fact, they should require GUARANTEED 10% (or more) raises for the H1-B worker. If after a year they still can’t find a qualified American who can work at his level, then the raise is justified. If the company can’t justify the raise, then there must be a qualified American to do the job, or he is really not qualified enough to justify the raise.

        If we get rid of the financial incentive to hire H1-B workers, then the USA will get ONLY the “best and the brightest” from across the globe, and those people will be paid above the rest. If not, then why are they being brought here in the first place ?

        • Concerned Citizen

          Agreed – it’s disingenuous of industry to claim they can’t find people when salaries in those fields are stagnating. If there were truly any shortage salaries would be rising, and quickly. The fact is they can’t find Americans who will work for what they’re offering, and so instead of offering more to attract the people they need, they’re circumventing the US labor market and importing indentured servants.

          • I think that they need to have their feet held to the fire. If they claim that nobody’s available, then we do a quick search on the top five employment sites (Dice.com, etc.) for any 5 of their required skills. If we find at least 1 person (anywhere in the U.S.) claiming to have half of those skills then the company should be denied all H1B visa for at least 5 years. (An exemption would be made if all of the people were interviewed and turned down for valid reasons.)

            After all, how hard is it to find talent on these sites? Simply putting up a job bulletin and not getting any valid replies probably means that your requirements are incorrect so qualified people never applied.

          • David

            Supposedly out of the millions Americans who are un/under employed, companies can’t find the “best, brightest, skilled, and willing to work” For some reason they always leave off the “FOR CHEAP” part. Many foreigners come to this country to be educated because we have the best colleges. All these companies have to do is have a job fair at these schools and they will be inundated with qualified graduates. These companies already pay little or no taxes by outsourcing the jobs. So if companies want the so called highly skilled H1-B visa worker working in this country then they shouldn’t mind paying the price. Therefore U.S. companies should be heavily taxed for each H1-B worker.

          • A Vet

            I agree with those thoughts, I remember when a tech got paid a good wage for their knowledge. But now, it’s not worth anything so the big guys go for cheaper labor. This is what hurts our economy and us Americans. We are not lazy and we are not stupid, we change our direction and work it differently. I would work at a lower wage just so that it eliminates one visa.

    • Rx_Solutions

      How about elimination of the Tax Subsidy for the wealthy corporations? Let them pay their fair share like other companies. Then let the market set the pay scale.
      If the Tax Subsidy for wealthy corporation for H1-B went away, there would be no discussion needed. Obama created the 4 IT CZAR positions. Why are not these overpaid persons involved? Was one of them famous for getting rich for his Outsourcing? Why do these CZARs live and operate in secret?

      H1-B has nothing to do with Immigration Reform. I am in favor of Immigration Reform. H1-B is pure Pork and it totally stinks of bribes, lobbyist, and subsidy to the wealthy.

    • Joe Blocks

      “t a visa holder should always be paid MORE than the pre-vailing wage”

      And how exactly are you going to enforce THAT?

      We don’t NEED any H1Bs to begin with

  3. Cicuta

    I am an advocate of getting rid of H1-B visas as I know the only ones who benefit from them are the giddy companies here in the US. For me, everything should be a two way street but unfortunately that is only a dream. H1-B visas help the companies to make more money and that is all; so, what people with skills in foreign countries should do? Fight back!

    Any economy is driven by the people and not by governments; so, people can make or brake any economy and we have examples of that through out history.

    So, in my mode of thinking, people in other countries with a skill set should get together and form a union, an international union with a set of demands for companies who seek their help; after all, if companies here in the US are desperate for skill workers then they should pay the price…The permanent visa or nothing!

    As it is, companies and the head hunters are the ones winning and the workers the only ones loosing; so, if workers get unionized they can force the head hunters to seek a contract, and a good one, for the people they represent and as far as the US government is concerned they can take a hike and stop their mal-practice deals with companies.

    Start or join a workers union…it is a hard thing to do but it can be done. How can you do that? well a good start is to get in touch with the “International Union of Operating Engineers” and see if they are willing to represent international skill workers and I bet that once that is accomplished the H1-B visas will disappear like magic and people from other countries would get their permanent visa before stepping on US soil.

    Here is the link for the “International Union of Operating Engineers”:


  4. There should be only one kind of visa: the kind that lets you live here, with all of the responsibilities and most of the rights (obviously, non-citizens shouldn’t be allowed to vote) of citizens. Having all of these different kinds of visas is silly…and socialist.

    The U.S. is supposed to be a free market society. Getting rid of visas, and simply letting anyone (except for terrorists, serial killers, pedophiles, etc.) who is willing to work and support themselves just live here, would create a true free market, at least in the employment arena.

  5. Cicuta

    By the way…H1-B visas started in the early 1980s and it was Texas Instruments who started bringing foreign professionals to work here in the US and for that they were sue by the Federal Government; now…all companies have H1-B workers thanks to the government whom not only screw foreign workers but also US workers and what people do….just complain and do nothing.

    I have mentioned before that professionals should get unionized but the problem with most people is that they believe that professionals should not belong to a union; however, doctors and lawyers are unionized here in the US and most developed countries; so, why not engineers, scientists and mathematicians?

    The day when all professionals are unionized (only a dream) at the international level…that day we will have peace on earth with no bloodshed.

    Definition of “workers union”
    An organization of wage earners or salaried employees for mutual aid and protection and for dealing collectively with employers; trade union.


  6. Cicuta

    Between 1945 and 1980 the immigration laws have changed drastically and all changes have been in favor of companies and the government. Before and after WW II the US government was bringing in scientists mainly from Germany; they were guests workers and they gave the US all the know-lage they possessed and thanks to those people we have NASA (Dr. Wernher von Braun founder of NASA) and all the advances we have today; however, in those days the laws of immigration were far from what it is today. Also, Gerald Vincent Bull gave a lot to the US Defense and his payment was being thrown in jail and eventually assassinated in Brussels by the US and Israel. So, we own a lot to foreign skill workers and still do. Foreign workers who want to come to the US should be granted a permanent visa after a through investigation…that was the way it was in those days and we had no terrorism as today. Today we grant all kinds of prerogatives to the ignorant and terrorist and to those who can contribute to our system we screw with no remorse.

    There should be just one visa…a permanent one base on merits and period.

    • Samwise

      Speaking of, might I also point out that not a single H1B worker has been ever found involved with any terrorist activities. We’ve had many more terrorists/wannabe terrorists ship in via student visa or the family based green card (which nobody ever mentions), but none on H1B.

      • Cicuta

        Well SAMWISE…It is all due to our stupid politicians and to the smarts of the terrorist groups. those who belong to a terrorist group know the flaws of our system and take advantage of it. For instance: people from Mexico just cross the border regardless of border patrols (which some are crooks by the way) and is easy for people from other places to pass the border like Mexicans do for a fee of 5- 10 thousand US dollars. Also, illegal immigrants (regardless whom they are) have better prerogatives than US citizens and matter of fact they pay no tuition fees at some universities thanks to our laws and hence another flaw of the system. So, terrorist take advantage of all our laws.
        Between 1945 and 1980 immigration investigated immigrants (and family members also) and granted a permanent visa based on merits….there were no H1-B or L1 or H4 and so on and that is the way should be. If we are on the need of know how from people in other countries, we should pay the price and not to screw them. One thing I must say: those people in other countries should not accept any job here unless with a contract through the head hunter regardless of verbal promises or dreams they may have.
        In those days also, there was the I-4 visa. The prospective student had to be admitted to a university before he/she landed on US soil and the college or university had closed ties with the status of the visa on a semester basis or quarterly depending on the university…we had no terrorists then… only brains!
        Everything went to hell when the treaty with Mexico and Canada was signed for free commerce among those 3 countries and also freedom of traffic of people…I foresaw the problems wee are having now but again…our stupid politicians screw up big time and all to favor companies. By the way…San Francisco is a sanctuary for illegal immigrants and I believe that Los Angeles and most bit cities in California are and hence the terrorist take advantage of that as well.

  7. Paulo

    Last year the USA brought in 85.000+ foreign-born skilled workers. Brazil admitted in the same period 73.000+ foreign nationals to occupy jobs there because nationals lacked one basic skill: the English language, both spoken and written. But the USA’s population is 65% bigger than Brazil’s population, not to mention the IT job market. With all due respect (as always) to all parties and opinions involved in this issue, the American H1B Visa is simply the American counterpart of a global trend. Instead of being overly protective, I suggest the best approach is to understand the global-worker issue as how things will be in the future, starting now. And based on that understanding, legislate and regulate appropriately. BTW, the USA already has international treaties setup with several nations concerning social security, taxes and so on. In my specific example, an American can move to Brazil, work there for X years, contribute to the local Social Security institution, and when moving back to the USA, bring those funds back as contributions to the USA Social Security if the decision is made to retire here. Or the other way around, or any mix in between. Off the top of my head, another country that I remember right now that has similar arrangements is Japan. The same thing is valid for taxes.
    And yes, as the long term effects of these treaties become more and more widespread, some incomes will go up and others will come down, that’s market law. I don’t believe there is any turning back from this trend, not now or in the future. I won’t mention other countries’ numbers on this to keep this posting short, but you get the idea…

    • I’m an individualist anarchist (but willing to settle for minarchy) who will *always* side with less, not more, government. The government created the present economic situation; it astounds me that anyone expects the government to fix it.

      The free flow of labor is a critical feature of a free market system; you cannot claim to be “free market” or “anti-socialist,” while simultaneously supporting sealing the border. That’s like claiming to be a vegetarian, except for your daily Big Mac.

      People who want to see Draconian immigration policies should move to socialist countries that have such policies. I would rather live in a free market country…and keep in mind, this is coming from someone who has not done well since I graduated from university. This is because (in addition to not expecting the very people who wrecked the system to fix it) I am looking at the long-term implications of government growing bigger and more intrusive. Sealing the border may or may not help me in the short term. It would destroy everyone’s livelihood in the long term. That fence everyone wants put up won’t be exclusively used to keep others out…

      • Joe Blocks

        “The free flow of labor is a critical feature of a free market system;”

        BS!!!! Pure BS!!!!
        Show me how that is even possible between US, China, India, EU

        • EagleCrest

          Joe Block, it all depends on the constraints within which you are speaking. The free market system is the US system. While we trade globally we also see that the global system is much less than free, especially when we look at China, India and the EU. So we need to make sure that labor within the US flows and responds to market needs.

          That said, Samwise’s suggestion that we let all the foreigners in to compete would not be free market as it is only a one sided movement. Therefore, the free market argument is one against the H-1B visa. In a free market if the company needs skilled labor then it should bid up the current labor pool for those who have the skills or invest in the training of potentially talented individuals to provide those skills.

          Companies enjoy patent, trademark and copy write protection in order for it to be worthwhile for them to make the investments. Why should the workforce invest in their skills if there is not protection against outside influences to protect them. If companies want the kind of free market Samwise is suggesting then we need to remove all the intellectual property protection they have. Let Apple develop an new iPad and let China have a copy of it out within 6 months to sell in the US. That would be great for US consumers, but in the end would kill both business and worker.

    • Rx_Solutions

      SO WHAT? You left out the massive tax subsidy for the wealthy companies who pay the lowest corporate tax rates of any companies. What was Oracle’s federal tax? Something like 1.5%?
      The huge companies promoting H1-B stand out in this issue.

      What criminal background checks are made on those we import? Interesting how you avoid that whole subject of responsibility and liability.

      Who cares about a bankrupt Social Security system? H1-B is not an American counterpart. Those things existed long before. You are just trying to justify something the H1-B charter now ignores “There is a shortage of skilled workers in the US”. Keep it simple! There is no shortage.

  8. R. Lawson

    I have made similar arguments, as have people I have known on the H-1b program. Many assume that if you oppose the H-1b program, your probably just don’t like immigrants. That’s not true, and we have more in common than not.

    Samwise: “Actually, I don’t think a visa should be linked to a particular company at all. It should be an individual visa, linked to the person not the business interest.”

    This is exactly what we (labor proponents) have been seeking. It isn’t in the legislation because 1) our only involvement was a courtesy call from politicians “here is what we and the lobbyists decided, what are your views on what we have already decided?” and 2) even if we were at the table, we wouldn’t really be at the table. We’d be window dressing so the cronies could claim they consulted with us.

    The biggest player right now on the H-1b visa labor side of the equation is the AFL-CIO. Just how many software developers do you know who are members of any union? It’s like finding a unicorn, and although I appreciate the AFL-CIO taking our side why in the hell aren’t they talking to us directly?

    The problem is that the H-1b will remain an indentured servant program, employers and lobbyists were very successful at getting what they want, and now they are getting greedy and going for blood. They want it all. The H-1b visa provisions of the bill have nothing whatsoever to do with immigration or with finding hard to find skills. The objective is clearly labor arbitrage and expansion of slavery’s second cousin called indentured servitude is going to help them get that.

    • I Agree with your views. There is no provision in the bill that eliminates the indentured servitude aspect of H1B or giving more independence to H1B visa holders. The sponsor/employer of H1b visas is still going to hold a lot of power.

      Another thing, If there is a shortage of skilled workers, it is due to the restrictions on H1b visa holders. They can’t work for another employer without changing current employers(and its very difficult to change employers). If Big IT companies are really interested in hiring skilled workers, why dont they ask US Govt to give Greencards to people from India, China, Mexico, Philippines etc. These people have been waiting in line for many years. How ironical is this, a person from Pakistan can get greencard in one year compared to a person from India when GC is sponsored by Employer. When an employer hires for a position, he looks at education/skillset etc of the candidate and not the country of birth, why then US govt makes such a distinction based on country of birth while handing out GCs???

  9. Being on H1B for past 8 years(and still waiting for GC/EAD), H1B is nothing but indentured servitude or modern-day slavery. The only people getting rich are the sponsors of H1B(specially the bodyshopping companies), who hold legal power given to them by US Govt to enslave H1B.

    US Govt should give H1B visa directly to the H1B holder and there shouldn’t be any sponsor in between USCIS and the H1B holder. When it comes to visa renewal etc, they can maybe ask for 2-3 years tax returns, recommendation from employer manager etc to determine candidate’s eligibility.

    This way, both US Citizens and H1B holder will be saved. H1B can work for any employer for a higher salary without worrying about losing immigration status. Once H1Bs start demanding equal pay, it will become a level playing field between US programmers and H1Bs and only skillset will determine who ultimately get a job.

    • Rx_Solutions

      I am very sorry to hear that heartless people created this modern slavery system known as H1-B. We citizens respect honest hard-working individuals. Our officials respect the lobbyist who only represent the most wealthy companies and gain unfair tax subsidy for them.
      Trying to “fix” the H1-B program is like dressing up a crack-head and putting them in charge of the school. It just needs to be abolished, not fixed.
      It is OK to say things are broken and abolish them. That is how the slavery issue was handled.

      If the H1-B was removed from the Immigration Reform, there would be a much better way to help people like yourself.

  10. Keep it simple folks H-1B visas is an issue of supply and demand. Nothing more.
    Flooding the US market with tech people from India and China just brings down rates for everybody.
    And just provide the corporate goons with cheap labor. And in many cases semi-skilled.

    Here is simple self enforcing solution: If you come in on a H-1B visa you must be paid $100,000.
    After all the corporate goons are saying these folks are special and rare, so they must be
    worth $100,000.

    I think that would work.


    • Samwise

      Putting a 100K minimum limit on the salary paid – I don’t think that would be a fair rule. You’re putting a draconian price on something rather than letting the market decide it. If the government put a rule that all furniture imported from China should cost at least $1000, would that be fair ? Or if any garment manufactured in Bangladesh should cost at least $100, would that be fair ?

      Not to beat a dead horse, but I think the solution is to bring H1B workers on par with american workers with respect to job mobility, green card process etc., and then let the market decide who to hire. If H1B workers start charging the same money as everyone else that would level the playing field, and only real talent and skills will decide who gets hired.

      • SouthRoad


        Wrong! The USA is NOT a free market where citizens of ALL countries have equal access. This is not United States of Earth. We are a sovereign nation and have to look out for our own citizens first. People from India or anywhere else do not have “free market” right to compete with us here. It was the Americans who paid to build all of our roads here. We didn’t do this for the world, we did it for us.

        The price should be higher for an H1-B than for an American and yes “Draconian” priced higher. Corporations are saying that this H1-B worker is more highly skilled than ANYONE that can be found here. That is a BIG statement. Are you telling me that if a person is more highly skilled than ANYONE that can be found here, 100k is too much to ask?

        Sounds like you are admitted that you know most H1-B are NOT higher qualified than their American counterpart and that you consider paying much higher wages “draconian” on the companies.

        I would have thought you would have said “Yes, ALL H1-B’s are very highly skilled, more highly skilled than their American counterpart, that is why we are here, and YES, there is NO reason why any of us should be getting paid less than TWICE as much!”.

        Why aren’t you saying it? In your article you have said many things, but not once did you claim that the average skill level of H1-B’s is higher than those over here. Why won’t you say that? Is it because you know it is not true?

        • Samwise

          Of course, not all people coming on H1B are more skilled than the people here. In fact, their skill level might be even lower than the people they might be replacing, although they might be charging a lower salary to compensate for that. **But**, there are many people on H1B who are more skilled than their american counterparts, but are still waiting in line for green card and serving indentured servitude on H1B visa.

          With respect to free market, I was referring to the fact that H1B employees should be able to change jobs when they want to, get green cards in a decent timeframe etc. By not doing this, and by subjecting H1Bs to such indentured servitude rules, the US government is harming it’s own citizens. Corporations have and will always do what is most profitable for them- the rules in H1B program provide corporations with workers who are guaranteed to **never** leave them, will work at whatever wages they offer, and will stick with them for the 8-9 years that it takes to get their green cards.

          The problem is not corporations that exploit the rules (and H1Bs), the problem is the government that writes such rules. Fix that, and everything else will fall in place.

          • SouthRoad


            Yes, with that I agree. If an H1-B is more highly skilled than his American counterpart then he shouldn’t become an indentured servant. I think everyone can agree with that. Unfortunately corporations will always try to game the system so eliminated the indentured servant rules (in some way) and requiring that the H1-B get paid more than prevailing wage will accomplish the task.

            It will be fair to the Corporation because they are getting a highly skilled worker that they couldn’t find here, and are paying more and are actually paying a fair price for the value they receive. The H1-B who has acquired great skills over the years of his life is being fairly paid for what he has accomplished and is not subjected to the abuse of indentured servitude, and it is fair to the American worker because we cannot be unfairly replaced by lower wage, lower skilled workers after we paid for the roads and schools out of our own tax money.

            I believe most Americans would not complain if the person brought here from anywhere was highly skilled and being paid top dollar, they would be admired not rejected.

            ….but face it, when you see your friend get fired, lose his home, and be replaced by an H1-B who can barely write a program and then be told “He is the best and brightest”, that causes serious issues and is the very reason so many people are debating this topic so passionately on this site in the first place.

          • SouthRoad


            I also want to add, that I remember debating you in the past and I find your thoughts and thinking to fair and balanced and I HIGHLY appreciate you taking your time to write this article. It is something that is really needed and I hope you get involved (maybe politically) in this issue further.

            You are a good writer and make good points and I strongly believe that when I refer to low skilled workers, I am definitely not referring to you. I find you intelligent and obviously of great value to this country. I’m glad you’re here.

          • Samwise

            Thanks dude. I appreciate your comments, I just want to make a difference and make things better, and I’m sure you are too.

  11. shasha

    i think its unfair….I SEE HIBs GETTING HIRED FULL TIME, PEOPLE HALF AS SKILLFUL AS ME….. YET AS AN AMERICAN I WORK ON AN HOURLY BASIS DOING CONSULTING. not only do i have the stellar skills, i have the “communication” and “strategic” team management skills BETTER THAN THAT GUESS WORKER…., yet companies play dirty games of bringing hibs to full time, because the manager HELD AN H1B once upon a time……THIS NEEDS TO STOP RIGHT NOW. AMERICANS FIRST !!

    • Joe Blocks

      You know what I see? I see state governments hire DOZENS of H1Bs through agents who are billing $90 an hour and paying the developers (mostly not that good) $30, oh, and a promise of an eventual Green Card. I know of a guy who is pulling in $400 an hour of pure margin/gross profit on 12 people.

    • INDIAN H1 Consultant

      I know it’s over a year and half old ant still I’m bumping it up, for pertinent reasons!

      Who is THE REAL AMERICAN? It’s the INDIANS, not Europeans, nor anyone else.


  12. Clinton Jensen

    Cry me a river. I am a computer engineer going on 30+ years now and am the very best at what I do and command the big bucks associated with that. What I see, is companies INSISTING on going offshore or bringing H1B visa staff over for inshore. They work for basically slave wages, and most of them work their butts off for it. However, in my experience, they do not have the business background to really do a great job. But, why do the companies care, when they can get 3 H1B visa folks for the price of 1? This is all about the money. It has zero to do with the availability of local talent.

    • Well the root cause of H1bs working their butts off is due to the restrictions that are put in place by none other than US govt. The current laws give an H1b employer too much power and very little freedom to H1b visa holder. Thereby insuring indentured servitude until the candidate gets his green card (which is taking 10-12 years for Indian and Chinese citizens). If and only if the visa is given to visa-holder(with an option to change companies if they want) instead of a company, then you would see no H1b would be working for less than below market wages.

      People who are opposed to H1b are infact working against themselves by not asking freedom for H1b holders. When there is a level playing field only those who got the right skills to perform a job will get it. If employers have to pay same amount of money to US citizen or H1b then they would simply choose the best candidate for the job.

  13. Philip

    I have seen workers that came here and they have children born here. If the children are born here, their parent path to citizenship is guranteed. It is best to hired american workers no matter what! There is no need to hire anyone from overseas.

    • Samwise

      No, the path to citizenship is not guaranteed. First, the parents can **apply** for citizenship after the children are of eligible age (18 years or something like that). Second, the citizenship process takes another 5-6 years. So someone who is 30 today is looking to get citizenship when they are 55. Nobody plans their life like that.

      I read in the news about chinese “birthing houses” where dozens of prospective mothers from China stay during the last months of pregnancy, give birth, and return back. I don’t how on earth could categorize guest workers to be in the same category – this is a guest worker program, if someone has kids while staying in the US it does not mean that they did so simply so they can get US citizenship when they are old.

  14. Peter Pan

    It appears that the outsourcing companies have abused the H1Bs, I have seen major IT depts (Pharmaceuticals, Insurance, American Express, etc) getting laid-off and being replaced by a huge contingent of H1Bs from Infosys, TCS, Wipro, etc. If H1Bs are paid at the same basis as an American worker why is this happening? These outsourcing companies are making record profits and worked enjoy 12-25% raises. The profits come at the expense of American workers. BTW I also held a H1B in the early 90ies. But corporations successfully profit and lobby, I expect a watered down bill being the law….

  15. Callistus Chui

    There are few, but I only want to point up one. Your solution seems to making the H1-B visa for foreign investors instead of for guest workers. And it’s simply based on the need of a company, and not an immigration matter at all.

  16. Interesting article, Samwise. As an IT software developer for many years, I don’t hold it against you for wanting to come to America to work. I do, however, hold it against the companies who lie and say that they can’t find an American worker with the skills they need. What they are really saying is that they can’t find an American worker who will work for the low wage and benefits they are offering. I do see my salary being capped because of the influx of H1Bs. I find it almost impossible to get into larger companies since many of them are so focused on hiring H1B holders. I don’t think it is fair that you must be sponsored as it smacks of slavery to me and I do hope that changes. I do hope they tighten the rules that are allowing the companies to get away with this. Sadly, there are no easy answers to this issue and since Congress only listens to corporations and not workers, I wouldn’t count on them for help.

  17. WOW, this article really hit some nerves. Hit mine. I am American born and Engineer stuggling with keeping a solid job simply because there is NO shortage of skills. Maybe that’s due to the H1-B1’s already filling the positions.

    I think some of you may have missed some finer points…:

    #1 The H1B1 program was designed to bring in skills that were otherwise missing. It was never intended for any specific company and definately not for the indvidual. It was based on a specific technology and the lack of skills thereof – PERIOD. Currenlty, there is no shortage of programmers, IC Developers, …. so why do we still have the H1B1 program? As others stated simply put it’s $$$

    #2 The H1B1 program was never intended to keep foreigners here indefinately, but rather show them a higer standard of living and provide them the experiences that they could not otherwise get; then take both back home.

    #3 There is a H1B1 fund that all employers pay into. That funds purpose was supposed to be used to train americans the skills needed for current and future requirements. In the past, 15 years only a very small % of that money has actually been used to train americans. The majority is going back out to train more foreigners. Case and point: Notice the increase of Filipino foreigner s in the hospital industry? How do you think they got the training? From the H1B1 fund money of course.

    #4 The last point… IT USED TO BE FUN TO WORK IN THE STATES … Now it’s cut throat, short term, low pay, bust your ass, work extra hours, and worse of all …. it breads bad Management. Managers now know they can underpay and mistreat ALL employees, not just the H1B1 employee.

    Summary: In my opinion, the H1B1 program is not being used for it’s intended purpose, has breaded large business corruption, and has made the US a miserable place to work.
    Though I love the diveristy of each culture and it’s people.

  18. Anand

    I just glanced the article, did not actually read it. In the GC section there are several assumptions which are wrong. A Ph.D holder need not stay in the same line as others. There are classifications in emploer sponsored GC – EB1, 2, 3. EB1 is typically done in 1 to 1.5 years. A Ph.D holder qualifies to that if the documentation is done correctly.

  19. Unomanual

    Not much is being mentioned here about the Masters Students. None of them return back and most of them move to IT. Specially those from India. They fake their experience and have their uncles run their placements agencies that cover the tracks. No client is asking proof of the 8 years job skills they put on their resumes. While American college grads worry about their loans, these students from oversees, quietly work their contacts, get their fake papers resumes ready and even get friends to attend interviews. The going rate is $500 for a successfule interview. How do we stop this?

  20. Situation is worse for L1A / L1B Visa types. They are truely “bonded labor”. Visa is non-transferable, salaries are mostly 15-20K less than H1Bs. These are mostly used by outsourcing giants. They just get 7 days to leave the country after they quit or employer fires them.

    • R. Lawson

      The Sentate bill remedies that, last I checked. Of course what it gives it takes away through loopholes so overall I am very concerned about what the Senate has produced. Or should I say what lobbyists have produced and what they are going along with.

      Also onsite requirements made the L-1 less desirable for the body shops. The B-1 will probably be used more so we’ve got to keep our eyes on several moving targets; the B-1, L-1, H-1b, J-1, automatic GC for grads… etc.

      People have all these lofty ideas, but they don’t seem willing to do the math. Flooding a profession with workers is disruptive, and it has been particularly disruptive to IT professionals. The harm will probably take generations to reverse because if Americans are driven out of IT we are going to lose our position as leaders in technology.

      • Samwise

        Not to mention the practice where offshore companies bring in so-called “managers” to the US directly on green cards. These folks aren’t even on a visa, they come here and start on green cards. BUT, companies make them sign 2 year bonds, so that they have to stay with those offshore companies at least for that time.

        Anyway, someone (an H1B worker, I think) ran a petition to abolish this practice. Don’t know whatever happened to that.

        • R. Lawson

          I find that the “it’s not fair that immigrants are paid more than natives” argument is really just race baiting – and I first noticed that argument being made by Stuart Anderson (from the front group NFAP). It’s funny that labor groups are saying “yeah, higher pay is better” while these industry groups are trying to convince people (through race baiting) that “we really do want to indenture foreign workers” and “they don’t deserve the level of pay that you deserve.” As if they are looking out for us.

          They are playing to our egos and some suckers are eating that up.

          The bottom line is that we want this program to be what it was originally intended – to fill jobs that are in short supply. By requiring higher pay (really just market rates that some employers are trying to circumvent) we are insuring that the motive are about skill and not about bottom barrel rates.

          If we don’t have the right skills, we can solve that problem through training and on the job experience. I’m happy to compete against foreign workers on skill. But if the competition is based primarily on absolute cost per hour, the only way for me to compete with that is to lower my own earnings. That’s a race to the bottom and not a race I want to be in.

          Based on what I’ve read I think you get that. You may have been on the receiving end of some tough comments but you held your own and I think you should be proud about what you have done. I feel you’ve honestly conveyed your perspective and even if there are some nuanced differences of opinion on the details at least the discussion is based on honest debate.

          I truly wish Congress could have the same type of discussion, and not allow industry groups to silence us or introduce dishonest talking points.

          I hope that one day you can come out of the “indentured closet” that the H-1b has placed you in and you can speak your mind without having to use an alias. My clients can fire me, but I’m experienced enough if they did that I could easily find another client (and they would be shooting themselves in the foot). But if I had to worry about possible deportation, I’d probably post anonymously also.

          People need to understand just how many American values we are compromising here, and how we are hurting ourselves in the process by allowing indentured servitude to exist. Why isn’t the “liberal media” all on top of this? Perhaps they aren’t so liberal?

          Even if you absolutely hate immigrants, allowing their exploitation harms you also. So if you can’t support the end of indentured servitude for their benefit at least do it for your own. When you deny other people their freedom or turn a blind eye to it, it won’t be long until your freedom is also at risk.

          Best of luck Samwise.

          -Roy Lawson

          • Joe Blocks

            “I’m happy to compete against foreign workers on skill.”

            That’s crazy. Why would you want to? Why would we let in foreign guest workers to compete with us on skill? We have great engineers already. We pretty much invented IT. What’s C? Was it written in India? C’mon. We don’t need guest workers period.

          • R. Lawson

            @Joe Blocks, here is the thing. This program isn’t going away, even though I think it should or you think it should. I frankly think it is beyond repair. We don’t really need guest workers (the shortage shouting is based on lies), but we shall have them anyways.

            We’ve got to come to grips with the fact that we now live under crony capitalism. Facebook – a company with a co-founder who renounced his US citizenship prior to IPO to avoid paying taxes – has more political pull than we do. Despite the thousands of people they harmed (who lack basic math skills in valuing a company) by dramatically over-valuing their IPO price. I blogged many times before the IPO about this problem and very few people listened or understood. Many said I was crazy. The crony run media marginalized anyone with a calculator, just as they are doing now with immigration reform.

            The Benedict Arnold CEOs have more power. That is the problem that we need to go to war against. Yes it is class warfare and the only class that seems to be in all out war right now are the 1%. They cede nothing, they want everything. If you want to be a fish in a barrel, do exactly what we are doing as a nation.

            So long as this is a crony state and politicians will not do what is best for the people, our only hope is incremental change and focusing our energy towards that. I thought we had something close by the Go8 but the lobbyists swooped in and had most protections neutralized, with research in hand by crony groups like the Brookings Institute and even worse front groups like NFAP.

            Given the political realities we will be forced to compete with additional labor. We’ve got to fight with everything we have to simply break even and not lose millions of American STEM jobs. We’ve got to prevent a race to the bottom, and at least try to engage in a race to the top.

            At this point our only hope is to put our own shade of lipstick on this pig, which is the immigration bill. At the end of the day we will all be manipulating markets and picking winners and losers. That is how employer sponsored immigration works. The whole notion is supported by so-called free traders even though it is the antithesis of free trade. Our long-term goal should be the end of corporate immigration middle men. Our short term goal needs to be getting meaningful protections in the legislation and if we can’t do that we must fight the legislation. The long term goal can’t happen under crony capitalism. Democracy itself won’t survive under crony capitalism, and the democracy we have now is a shadow of what we once had. We are at a pivotal time in our history as a country and if we don’t do something, we may be the ones immigrating to another country seeking refuge from fascism.

          • So how are the job prospects in India. Does anyone know of an agency that can get me in there so I can get a good job in the tech industry? I hear they have thousands of job openings.

  21. sf95070

    The original article was well written. While i have a major problem with the whole H1B concept, I don’t hate the workers who come here on an H1B.

    This whole scheme is another way for corporations to add 5 cents to the bottom line while hurting the workers whether US or H1B worker. The point of the H1B is supposed to be allow US firms to bring in foreign workers when no US workers exist to do the job. I have personally been pushed out of a job and replaced by an H1B worker. Obviously, at least 1 US worker existed who could do the job.

    At the same time, the way the system is setup, these same corporations can and do abuse the H1B workers as they are practically indentured slaves.

    If the point of H1B’s is to address labor shortages, companies should be required to post these “unfillable positions” through sites such as Employment Development departments and private sites such as Dice and Monster. Only after they really can’t fill the job should they be allowed an H1B and some kind of educated review will be necessary to be sure that the job posted has actual requirements. At the same time corporations should be required to pay H1B employees a rate and benefits equivalent to a US worker. I am not sure what the particulars would be, but something also needs to be done about the requirement to stay employed with one employer or be deported as this allows many of the abuses to occur.

    In short, it is time to stop importing cheap labor while qualified workers over 50 can’t get a job and to stop maintaining a “slave labor” system to abuse guest workers.

  22. Garry

    I am of mixed feelings on this matter. My fiance is Chinese and came here on a regular visa. She came to visit a relative. She decided to pursue citizenship and got her work visa and is working towards her citizenship. For what it is worth, she is my fiance only because she did not want to marry me to become a citizen. That is a choice she made, and one I respect. She wants to do it on her own. I work with a lot of people on H1B’s and every one I have asked has told me that they don’t want to become U.S. citizens. So, maybe I have worked with the few (according to the author) who don’t want to be citizens, but just want to work here, earn money and take their newly acquired skills back to their home countries along with the jobs they have held. I don’t know. My view is that Samwise gave some very good arguments, but I think his suggestion to make the H1B six years is flawed. I don’t believe that H1Bs should be granted for less than four years, and the company sponsoring the visa should be required to provide employment for that entire four years. Also, at the end of the four years, the visa holder should be given the opportunity to take a citizenship test. If he or she passes, citizenship is granted. If not, well, there is probably a job waiting back in his or her homeland. Now, I have also seen people from India take one-month vacations to go back home. Do you realize my Chinese fiance can not leave the U.S. until she is a citizen, or if she does, she can never come back? That should be the condition of an H1B. If you want to work in the U.S., you should commit to it. It should be a single entry visa, and no second chances should be given. That means that if you go home to get married, you stay there. It sounds cruel, but as stated, American jobs are highly in demand and there just are not enough H1B visas to go around. If four years sounds short, well, it is enough time to decide if you really want to be a citizen. If you do, take the test. If not, you leave without harm or foul.

    Now, as someone who spent seven months unemployed, I agree that 15 days is not long enough to find a job in the US, but if you were fired, as the employers’ logic has always been given to me, why should another employer risk hiring you? H1Bs are not alone in their needs to find jobs quickly. I scraped and ran out of unemployment benefits a month before I got back to work. My car insurance company screwing me on a claim didn’t help matters (Travelers sucks, by the way) and I nearly filed bankruptcy. I cashed in my stocks – except for Facebook, which had lost so much money that it really wasn’t worth cashing in – and considered clearing out my 401k from a previous job and cashing out a pension from my state employment, but got back to work before the drastic measures were needed. Still, my fiance went without a birthday present from me. I still hear about that one, especially because my mother gave her money for her birthday.

    Oh, but for all of you who belly-ache about Americans getting the short end of the stick, I have an even worse complaint. As I said, I spent seven months looking for work. I am a veteran and applied to several ‘veteran-friendly’ employers. The most common thing I heard was that they wanted me to relocate halfway across the state or country for what I need to make staying where my house is now, and invariably, one of the interview questions is “Do you mind working with offshore developers?” My thoughts are simply “Wait a second. You want me to relocate at my own expense, giving up my home purchased on a VA mortgage so that I can work for you for less money than I make here, but you want me to work with someone who is too lazy to leave his country and his family behind and move here to work?” What makes that person overseas more important than me? So he has to give up his home. I do if I want to work for you. You don’t want me to work remotely, but he can. Why? Because he works cheaper? Okay, well, I will work for what I need and you won’t have to pay me to relocate. I won’t need a raise since my car will only be used for minor errands, I won’t have any commute time and can be on-call 24×7 (except when I am on vacation, sick, or otherwise occupied). I won’t ‘miss’ work because I can work any time. Oh, but then there is the fact that as an American, I must be supervised in my job by fifteen people who can’t do it, and people in foreign countries are always more reliable since you absolutely cannot ever see what they are doing. I sometimes wonder how many offshore developers would have jobs if their US employers ever toured the facilities.

    I know this was about H1Bs, but the two are related since H1Bs who leave often start companies in their home countries doing the same work they learned to do while here as guest workers.

    Now, just so I don’t sound like a whiny American, Sasha, your communication skills obviously do not extend to the written word. Please learn proper grammar and spelling before complaining about other people’s communications skills. You are embarrassing me.

  23. Very interesting dialogue here. I agree with most of it. However there’s a miniscule amount of text regarding those IT workers who are displaced by the incredibly fast pace of new tools and technologies. Having been through the 80s and 90s, I came to realize that there was no way to keep current by oneself as companies weren’t paying to upgrade skill levels of those who worked in mainframe environments. Instead, it was cheaper and quicker to import H1Bs from the ‘golden triangle’ or other education mills . I personally witnessed this on an SAP conversion project ( one of several i did during the latter part of the last century.) The people I worked with were initially Asian Indians and were being paid upwards of $8K which was a princely sum back home. I also got to see first hand the faxed bills from their companies which averaged $160-200 per HOUR. Some level playing field indeed. The American companies, driven by the lust of dollars could give a s_ _ t less about displaced Americans. That was not their problem. I have come around on this situation and think that as long as we’re going to permit outrageous profits, there ought to be a tax on some of it so as to permit job retraining or shifting so we don’t eliminate whole segments of former employees. I’m convinced, though that for the vast majority of US IT workers it will be difficult or near impossible to keep up with the changing technology without some assistance..
    While I can sympathize with the comments of your writer regarding the plight of H1B’s, such as layoffs, bad decisions about housing, long waits for documentation, starting a company, etc. etc.
    I am basically not impressed. Many of us have such trials and tribulations but that is part of being alive. You need to take the hand you are dealt with and make the most of it.
    I left home and family for 5 years preceeding Y2K for opportunities to work at some of the larger companies around the country, and made some pretty good money at it. Like a lot of us, the whole thing was done Jan 1, 2000.
    I’m no longer in IT because of a skillset that is no longer marketable. That’s just tough on me I guess but it is what it is.
    To the H1Bs I would say to make money while you can because you too will be outstripped by technology. You should face the same employment risks that US citizens do each day.
    I didn’t mean to ramble but I wanted to address several comments made .

  24. Bob Anderson

    The so called “skills gap” is a big scam. There are thousands of IT professionals, engineers, even accountants and financial analysts who cannot get jobs because they are replaced by H1b visa workers. Citizens who live here with plenty of skills are facing desperate situations. The skills gap is a proven fraud in both the Dept. of Labor statistis that show there are actually too many college graduates for the newly created jobs, newly created jobs over the next decade make up only 60% of the class of 2013 alone who are capable of taking those jobs. These are not liberal arts majors, but engineers, Phd’s, scientists, IT professionals, and financial analysts. There is also video footage of immigration lawyers teaching companies how to NOT HIRE AMERICANS so the visas can come through. It is a big scam and a lot of us who are unemployed are TIRED OF THESE LIES propagated by Amazon, Microsoft, Deloitte, and other corrupt companies that have thrown the U.S. worker to the wolves. May they all go down with the ship without a taxpayer bailout.

  25. EagleCrest

    It is amazing how quickly people get off track. Samwise’s story is a real tear-jerker, but the reality is that he is here on an H1-B visa. There are many different kinds of visas including various work visas. Much like the immigration argument made today that there is a need for many of these potential immigrants because they will do jobs that Americans supposedly don’t want to do or won’t, this visa is for those who possess certain skills that no other possess.

    Perhaps at the time of its inception there was a reasonable claim to be made for its existence, but does anyone really believe that Samwise’s skills as a DB developer are at a level that no one else in this country could do what he does? (After all that is the only legitimate and legal reason for him to be here.)

    But that isn’t why Samwise is here; he is here because it is a good job and he wants it. But so do a number of Americans and they can’t get it because he is here. Supply and demand! Increase the supply and you lower demand. Samwise can come here for a few years to gain experience; he can live cheap and save money then go back to his native country and be rich with the saved money, plus will be worth more because of his experience. American workers have to buy houses, buy cars, invest in their country and retirement plans while Corporate America is using H-1B visas to drive down their value.

    Samwise’s complaint is based on wanting more than the system was intended to provide. He has to leave within 15 day because he was only here to do a very specialized job. No one else should need him if that job is done. The system isn’t supposed to provide him with a long period of time to find work, that isn’t what the system was intended to do. It is intended to give American’s jobs and only when it is impossible to get an American to do the job should the Samwises of the world get their visa.

    If you don’t like that then you are talking about a totally different immigration issue, don’t confuse the subject with irrelevant emotion. We are graduating engineers from our Universities that cannot find employment; if US companies had any pride in their own country they would not just talk about how they are committed to hiring veterans they would be committed to full employment for all citizens that wanted to work before pulling the H-1B scam.

    Oh and if you fall for the new immigration scam about how we need to let in low income minorities because they will do jobs Americans won’t just see how long that keeps happening once they qualify for union membership. Let the market drive the issue and not bleeding hearts and politicians.

  26. Autocorrect

    I’ve read all the comments here, you can see who’s on an H-1 or been on an H-1 before, so you have a different point of view than I do. From an American citizen that recruits people on a daily basis, let me just say that if you don’t agree with the system, don’t come here for work. You benefit from your country’s technical training in the education system, while the US education system does not churn out your type of labor. I’ve had this conversation with many H-1 workers, and they have a good attitude about the situation. Americans typically have to do internships and find jobs just like everyone else here. The H-1 workers have told me they consider their first few years here as an internship to learn the culture and country, but they’re not homeless or making a living paycheck to paycheck. Most of them are sending a bulk of their pay back instead of keeping it in the US economy.
    I just find it hard to understand how people don’t understand this is a give and take system. You weren’t born here, what gives you the right to come here and take someone else’s job that has been in this system their entire life, paid taxes, education, etc., and an H-1 can just come over and expect to make the same wages? Does that seem right to you? We’ve seen a lot of jobs offshored because the labor is cheaper, so maybe your complaint should be more toward offshoring companies that are reducing your opportunity to earn more, and not at the government.

    • Samwise

      I’d like to address some of the points you’ve made:-
      “Most of them are sending a bulk of their pay back instead of keeping it in the US economy.” — Not true. There’s a clear distinction between people who come here to work via the so-called “consulting companies” and the people who work in large cos., or as “real” consultants like I do. A lot of people who come from such consulting companies come with a “short term” mindset – save as much money as you can in the 1-2-3 years you are here. Many others like me are here to make a career, and have been here for a much longer time (8 years for me), have kids, have bought assets etc. It’s not fair to bundle the two categories together and generalize that everyone on H1B is sending money back home. I, for one, have been sending back minuscle and have most of my savings here, invested in US banks etc., which, by the way, pay peanuts in the name of interest, but that’s a different story.

      “The H-1 workers have told me they consider their first few years here as an internship to learn the culture and country” – Not sure who these H1 workers were. If they really are interns, like, fresh out of college, they should not have been here on H1B visa and the USCIS should have rejected their visa application in the first place. If they are here, and you know that they really are interns, you can complain to the department of labor or the USCIS, and they will take action against the company sponsoring them (meaning, the company’s owners will be subject to fines, jail term etc.). Most H1Bs I’ve worked with have had some sort of experience in IT before they came here. Sure, it still feels like an internship early on because it’s a new country with new rules, culture etc.

      “I just find it hard to understand how people don’t understand this is a give and take system” – sure. But, H1Bs are paying the same taxes as everyone else, in fact, they are paying social security tax without any social security (social security doesn’t exist for H1s but the tax does).

      “and an H-1 can just come over and expect to make the same wages” – are you saying that an H1B should not be making the same wage as an american worker ? I thought most people in this forum have demanded that H1Bs be paid *more* than american workers. I’m not sure what you mean by this statement. In my article, I was simply referring to the fact that H1Bs should be allowed to change jobs when they want to, not that they should be paid higher. Once H1Bs can start leaving employers that are underpaying, the market will automatically correct itself and wages will rise since there won’t be any “indentured servitude” H1Bs..

      • EagleCrest

        Samwise, I believe discussion is beneficial so I do value what you have to say; however, I value it lowly in the context said. That means I think you may make some good point, just that they have no value in the context of this discussion.

        You aren’t making a losing argument, you are making a lost argument in my opinion. The simple fact is that Autocorrect hit the point right on its head when he said, “From an American citizen that recruits people on a daily basis, let me just say that if you don’t agree with the system, don’t come here for work.”

        You comment that you pay taxes, bought assets, have children (presumably US citizens), etc. You seem to believe this should give you some extra benefits. Why? You knew the rules when you came here. All the down sides were know in advance; they should not be a surprise to you. You have benefited greatly, especially if being here has allowed you children citizenship. Does you home land provide the same benefits in reverse? If Americans were to work in your country what limitations and restrictions would exist? Is citizenship for children born there guaranteed?

        You state “In my article, I was simply referring to the fact that H1Bs should be allowed to change jobs when they want to, not that they should be paid higher.” Again I ask why? You are here supposedly because you offer this country a skill that cannot be found elsewhere, not as a worker just trying to find a job like any other US citizen or other visa workers. You are here as a special case and you seem to feel cheated because once here you cannot just change that designation and do as you please.

        Again I refer to Autocorrects comment “…if you don’t agree with the system, don’t come here for work”. This isn’t an immigration discussion it is a guest worker discussion, but they are so closely tied together and the logic of both are very fogged and conflated with each other. It is important, I believe, for people to understand this confused thought process that you and so many others are putting forth. You are arguing many different issued under the guise of a single one. That is why you argument is failed; you cannot win an argument by presenting facts of a different argument instead.

        You also state “f they really are interns, like, fresh out of college, they should not have been here on H1B visa and the USCIS should have rejected their visa application in the first place. If they are here, and you know that they really are interns, you can complain to the department of labor or the USCIS, and they will take action against the company sponsoring them (meaning, the company’s owners will be subject to fines, jail term etc.).” Yet, I have yet to hear you defend your presence here. What exactly is it about you that no other person could do your job? If that cannot be shown then should we be complaining about you to the department of labor and the rest of your suggested remedy? Shouldn’t you be deported immediately?

        Autocorrect says “You benefit from your country’s technical training in the education system, while the US education system does not churn out your type of labor. ” I am not exactly sure what he means by this as I don’t think our system is any less capable than foreign systems of developing the necessary talent. I suspect though that it has much more to do with how companies work than it really has to do with the talent pool in this country.

        Samwise, you may be a fine person, just the kind we would want in this country; but the H1-B visa is not the instrument that you should have used to get here. If you want to suggest it was the easiest way then fine, just don’t complain when it doesn’t provide the benefit you wish you could have had if you used other forms of entry. Also remember you have stated that you didn’t come here to become a US citizen, you came here for you personal benefit, regardless of the benefit to our country. Why should you get all the benefits that those who wish to leave behind their homeland and “change teams” to become Americans? Why should guests get the same benefits as those who truly wish to become Americans?

        • Samwise

          You have said so many things that it is difficult for me to respond to all of it. However, I will respond to some of the stuff you said –

          “Samwise’s story is a real tear-jerker” – this is not a tear-jerker, nor is it meant to generate sympathy. We have a problem that is affecting everyone reading this article, and I have tried to figure out a logical solution to the problem. My solution may sound biased to you, or even completely wrong, but let’s just be clear that I’m not asking for sympathy.

          “He can live cheap and save money then go back to his native country and be rich with the saved money, plus will be worth more because of his experience. American workers have to buy houses, buy cars, invest in their country and retirement plans.” – Wrong !! I have invested in a car (going to buy my second one), have invested in the stock market, and have been paying more than 3 grand for rent every month, because I don’t want to buy a house while on H1B. Please, I’m not living cheap by any standard, **and so do a lot of H1Bs**. The problem is that you always see the foreign workers who are sharing a 2-bed apartment with 10 other people, you never see those who are living the good lifestyle in expensive communities.

          • Samwise

            You also seem to think that “H1B workers should NOT be allowed to change jobs at will, because they are here for a specific job, and the specific job only”.

            But, what you are effectively asking to maintain the status quo, where H1B workers cannot change jobs easily. We’ve all seen what that has done over the past few years, and you want to continue that ? I don’t understand why you’d think that workers who come to this country should be tied to a “specific project” and sent back when they are done. This is what causes indentured servitude- if the foreign worker wants to stay here, he better listen to what his bosses are saying.

            The L1 visa is exactly this – once the project is done, you are supposed to leave the country. Just ask anyone on L1 visa the kind of treatment meted out to them by their employers. I understand your frustration with the system, but this is definitely not the right solution.

          • Samwise

            You also said that the H1B program should be stopped. Let’s take that scenario.

            Let’s say there a dude “Kaching”, like Las Vegas Kaching, who works on H1B visa at Amazon.com. One day, Kaching learns that the H1B visa program is closed, and he will have to return home. He packs his bags, and heads back to India. Amazon was paying him 100K when in the US, he proposes that he will work for 30K from India.

            Obviously, Amazon agrees, since they are paying 70K less for the same guy. Kaching is now paying taxes in India, he buys a luxury car, fancy electronics, house etc., all in India.

            The US government is now losing out on the taxes that he would have paid if he were in the US, nor does it help the local market since a potential consumer is gone.

            How, exactly does closing the H1B visa help the US economy in this case ? And who is going to compensate for the losses to local businesses.

          • Samwise

            “Yet, I have yet to hear you defend your presence here. What exactly is it about you that no other person could do your job? If that cannot be shown then should we be complaining about you to the department of labor and the rest of your suggested remedy? Shouldn’t you be deported immediately?” —

            I came here via the H1B visa, a program sponsored by the US government. They had all of my details, my paystubs, academics, tax records, passport, everything. After scrutinizing my credentials, the USCIS found me to be satisfying all the required criteria to enter this country and work here. So, NO, I do not need to defend my presence here, unless the USCIS wants me to. H1B workers don’t cross the border illegally, they are here on a legal program of the government. Why then, would you lay all the blame on the workers, and not on the companies that bring them here, or the government agencies that approve them.

          • Samwise

            Sorry if you are exhausted reading all my posts, I was similarly exhausted reading yours. Here’s my last one –

            You (or maybe someone else) said that companies don’t make sufficient efforts to find US-born employees before hiring H1Bs.

            First of all, let me say that I don’t sympathize with companies. But to explain my point, let’s say the government imposed a similar requirement on buying cars – you cannot buy a foreign-made car unless you can prove that there is not american-made car available in your area.

            So when you set out to buy your next car, you have two options – buy a Toyota for 20K, or a GM for 30K.

            In this case, would you even visit a GM showroom ? Of course not, because you are required to show that you couldn’t find an american car in your area. You would make extra efforts to show that the only car you could find was the Toyota, because you don’t want to spend 10K more for the GM.

            Point is, companies are faced with the same issue – they want to hire H1B workers for lower wages via indentured servitude, BUT, they need to find innovative ways to show the “we could not find an american worker”.

            In my view, the whole idea is absurd- how, exactly, would anyone show that they could not find an american worker for a job – of course, there is always “an” american worker available for any job. But, is he available on terms that are profitable for the company ? I think the H1B provisions missed this important point – as long as H1B/L1/B1 etc. workers are proving profitable for companies, they will find ways to show that there is a shortage of american workers.

            So, the only solution is to free up the H1B workers to work for whoever they want, and thereby level the market for everyone.

  27. Richard Hart

    I agree, in general, with most of the comments above. Don’t blame the “Gastarbeiter”, blame the companies that want to do things on the cheap.

    Yes, I think foreign labour should be priced higher. By all means, increase the number of H1Bs, but raise the price! A lot! That way, more competive for us workers.

    Too, I think the 15-day limit is ridiculous. I would agree that the “hard-code the visa to the company” is an awful idea, because we all know how easy it is for companies to dump workers, no matter what their origin is.

    I’m just sayin!

  28. If H1-B is so bad, please feel free to leave and return home. The underlying fact still remains that the employers are exploiting both the citizens and H1-B visas by denying jobs to citizens and hanging a carrot of green card in front of the foreign workers. H1-B should be abolished and some other visa may be allowed limited to duration of projects absolutely essential and critical for national security, without any possibility of permanent residnce. Businesses should train domestic workforce for filling their needs. Other stupid law which we have here, is granting citizenship to ANYONE dropped here by any woman, irrespective of the parents’ status in the country. Citizenship should be granted only to children of citizens and at the most those of permanent residents.

    • INDIAN H1 Consultant

      Who are YOU to decide that only a child of a citizen or green card will be citizen?

      What’s is YOUR origin? African? European? A rich country looted by the so called westerners, like India? OR any second and third world country from Europe and other part of the Globe?

      Who are YOU? What is YOUR legality? What’s YOUR status?

      Remember, ONLY people who’ve the real birthright are the INDIANS. No one else.
      Rest all are just Immigrants.

      So assuming you or your ancestors are/were legit, this has been a country of Migrants and Immigrants and will continue to be so for eternity. Neither YOU nor I will try or need to change it.

  29. Marco Antonio

    I was thinking in work temporarily as a freelance developer there in U.S.A. The project is about 6 months. Am I supposed to have an H1B visa to work this way ?

  30. Testersavid

    America is a land of immigrants. All the innovations and cutting edge technology was made possible by bringing the best talents from around the world… mainly on H1 visa. American companies have made use of this for their benefits. H1B contributed a lot to the economy here and eventually took the path to permanent immigration. I have numerous examples of of where H1B helped develop chips for Intel or the Hotmail or create programming languages such as C, C++ etc. There are many such examples.

    I worked for 3 fortune 500 companies. Each of those companies held interviews for over 7-8 months before they interviewed me and offered me the position. I am not saying that there is accurate lack of labor here. The labor does exist but there is a “shortage”. There are plenty of job opportunities but American companies are finding it hard to fill those high-tech positions because may be the American citizen who can fill those positions are already employed elsewhere on a fat paycheck or are not available in that region. So after I joined those fortune 500 companies, I could easily notice the laid back attitude of the so called “American Labors”…. not willing to take on new opportunities, lack of responsibility, availability for oncall, etc. Now, does get defensive here…these issues are not will all the employees but majority of them.
    Now if an American company wants to ramp up and make profits, how will it do that with its laid back attitude work force??

    Now to answer immigration for H1.. well if you spent the prime years of your life to an environment to make it better, you get used to the system here, your family gets accustomed to the culture here then why is it unethical or a crime to be part of such a system. You, or your fathers or your forefathers came to this country for better opportunity for them and their families.

    Once you become a citizen here, and have all the knowledge and experience, you can start-up your own company and give employment to american citizens and compete in the world market. Employment based immigration should be given a higher preference than the country based citizenship. People from Pakistan and Afganistan and Middle east get green card within 6 months to 1 year. Are they equally qualified on technical grounds? NO.

    • “All the innovations and cutting edge technology was made possible by bringing the best talents from around the world… mainly on H1 visa ”

      That’s a broad statement. In my opinion, most of the innovation from this country took place from 1900-1970, which was well before the H1 visa program apparently existed. Since then, many people here on the board helped develop the computer industry that exists today…and I’m talking about the ones who started their career in the 70s and 80s and build the technology that we are using today, including ARPNET (aka the Internet) and the .COM concept as well as a large chunk of the computer technology (circuitboards, memory chips, etc.)

      What I suspect you are saying is that the H1B visa workers assisted the companies who developed those. However, I would argue that those things would have still gotten done without the immigrant workers (but they might be a lot more expensive.)

  31. EverTheOptimist

    A well-written and well-thought out piece. After reading the comments for and against, I thought I’d add my 2c. As an immigrant (now US citizen) myself, I harbor passionate, conflicting views on this subject. I arrived in the US during the DotComm era when IT skills were in high demand. Yes, I was exploited. I worked extremely hard and was promoted to manager of an IT team of US citizens who earned at least one and a half times my salary at the low end. These practices were common place back then. There are a host of debates we can have around the picture I just painted, however, i would like to focus on the facts and the big questions.

    Fact 1: The US NEEDS foreign skilled workers to remain competitive in the world. – Do the US schools, universities and colleges not produce enough suitably skilled people to maintain a competitive knowledge-based economy?

    Fact 2: The US allows approximately 500,000 students in to the US to study each year. (All students, not just college students – According to http://www.travel.state.gov/pdf/FY2012NIVWorkloadbyVisaCategory.pdf). When each student has graduated from college, they get a 1 year H1-B visa to work anywhere, and then they have to leave the country. Some of these students attend Harvard, Brown, Cornell, Stanford, etc. Why would we not invite them and their newly found skills to leave after 1 year? Do we not NEED these skills? – Do we not want to immerse them in the culture, develop their communications skills, their sense of allegiance to the US?

    FACT 3: “WANTED: Seasoned, talented professionals for temporary assignment. Give up your life in your country, uproot your family and move to the US BUT we only want you here for two years.” Experienced professionals often have families. Why should they move to the US for a limited amount of time and then move back to their countries once the US has benefitted from their skills? The only thing a company holding the H1-B visa is responsible for when a contract is concluded is the airfare back to the country of origin. Would you move to China for two years with your family? If you would, would it not be great to have the option to own property there? How is capital most often raised to start a small business? – Through a mortgage on property. The company has gained some awesome knowledge which could have resulted in new patents, enhanced cost-saving processes, new international market perspectives, etc. How did the foreign worker and his (or her) family gain? Yes, the kids went to a US school for two years (was the education better than they could have gotten at home? Depends on country of origin). Was their income enhanced? Did the spouse get to work during this time? No (unless they have sought after skills too.) They may have temporarily experienced a high standard of living?

    It is my firm belief that the US can gain some exceptional foreign talent if an immigration plan is put in place that allows the foreign worker the choice to remain indefinitely after a suitable amount of time. There shouldn’t be the hostage taking and under-paying if the foreign worker controls the visa. Yes abuses do occur but mechanisms should be put in place to reduce the abuse. Non-immigrant visas are not logical to me. I don’t have the answers, just questions. I am willing to debate this with any open-minded person.

    Yes, there are abuses; however, I came here LEGALLY. I am a native English – speaker with an accent. Don’t hate me because I wasn’t born here. I pay my taxes, I vote, I do jury duty (yes, I don’t skip out on my civic duties no matter how tedious they may be.) This is a nation built (and still being enhanced by immigrants).

    I agree with a “hire a local first” policy but then we need to reduce the H1-B quota when the economy slows down. We need to do away with tax breaks for companies who hire H1-B workers. As a matter of fact, we should increase taxes on companies who hire H1-B workers when the economy slows down. – On the other hand, just when we need to be competitive the most, how do we reduce costs and increase our knowledge base?

    This is not s a simple issue. It needs more debate and sensible, sensitive politicians. It all starts with YOU. Did you write your congressperson on this issue? I have!

    • EagleCrest

      EverTheOptimist, your fact 1 is a fallacy! That is because you appear to be claiming that only external candidates can provide those skills. There is no skill required that cannot be provided by a US citizen. Most foreign countries spend substantial government dollars to educate their citizens, the US does very little to support theirs beyond HS. Public education in this country was originally driven by industry and their need for an educated worker. Most of this could be done with a HS education that is why public support ended at that level.

      There is no need public support to increase to the college level. With enough pay there is money to pay back loans, but if instead of American companies hiring American citizens who invested in their careers, they hire foreign workers who have been subsidized by their governments you then have a non-competitive system. Here is a fact for you though, the vast majority of H-1B visa are simply gaming the system and not legitimate to the original purpose of those visas.

    • SouthRoad

      First I disagree that you need a college education to be a programmer. Some of the best programmers I’ve ever worked with were musicians. I’ve also worked with programmers from Yale who were complete idiots. I think we should take the Universities out of the equation completely.

      The only true test of weather an H1-B is really better and a worthwhile addition is if he is good enough to be hired at a much higher salary than the standard. If after going through several rounds of interviews, if a company is willing to offer you a 50% premium over what is being paid here, I would suspect that yes, you are definitely good at what you do and have a lot to offer the country.

      If no employer thinks you are worth any more than what they can find here in the USA and are unwilling to pay you more than obviously they don’t feel you are worth any more than a person who could be found here, so why issue a visa?

      I guarantee that for all the so called “best and the brightest” that are here, if the law was past immediately that companies must pay 50% premium for the people they already have on H1-Bs, then the companies would dump them like a hot potato.

      I suspect about 80% of visa holders would be sent back home because in my experience only about 20% of the H1-B’s that I have worked with would really be worth more than their American counterparts.

      Let’s just raise the price of the H1-B. It is the easiest way to see how many who are coming here are really “better than what could be found here” and what percent should go back.

      It’s an easy formula and yes, I will take your suggestion and write my congressmen. Let’s bring in the true “best and the brightest” and get rid of the rest who are nothing more than impostors.

      • EagleCrest

        SouthRoad like so many here you miss the point that an H-1B visa is not about finding the “best quality” employee, it is about finding a talent that does not exist in this country. Regardless of any argument that the best talent can be beneficial, that is a different argument than what H1-B attempts to cure.

        You are addressing a much broader issue that is irrelevant to the discussion point here.

        • SouthRoad


          Actually, your post makes no sense to me. It is not about finding “best quality” employee, it is about finding talent that does not exist in the country. What?

          So when I was unemployed and an H1-B had a job that I could do, I guess that means that I didn’t exist during that time.

          All the American’s who are so opposed to the H1-B program and spent time unemployed while H1-B’s took the jobs didn’t exist either?

          If we all are missing the point, then why are we here posting comments? According to you, we don’t exist, and the H1-B program is created to fill the void created by our lack of existence? I guess I must really be a brick layer wishing I was a programmer and thats why companies bring in H1-B’s because of of the displaced programmers never existed in the first place.

          Denying our existence doesn’t help your case.

          • EagleCrest

            SouthRoad, you stated “The only true test of weather (sic) an H1-B is really better and a worthwhile addition is if he is good enough to be hired at a much higher salary than the standard.’ As I explained, but you seem unable to understand, that is not the basis for an H1-B visa. They don’t get a job over a US citizen just because they are more talented or better at their job, it has to be because no one else can do that job, i.e., the skill set doesn’t exist here.

            The reason others are claiming H1-B’s should be paid more (and I don’t disagree with that) is because the intent it to provide a specialized talent, thus by virtue of supply and demand the demand for the limited supply of talent they are able to address should drive up their price. It really isn’t that complicated an idea, not exactly sure why you have such a hard time with it.

            As to why people are posting here, it seems many are venting for various reasons; however, an intelligent discussion should be about facts and not emotion ladened misunderstanding. We can all have opinions on immigration, work visa, etc. But to complain about how an H1-B visa effects the workers and ignoring its purpose is inappropriate.

            Case in point, to complain about a 15 day transfer period is ridiculous considering the worker is here to do a very specific job and if that job disappears there should be no reasonable expectation that they will continue to work in the US. Giving 15 day to find another employer is exceedingly generous under the conditions of the visa.

            What any of this has to do with your existence (physical, metaphysical or psychedelic) is beyond me.

          • Excellent post Eagle. I have not read the H-1B visa bill/law as it currently stands. Do you know a specific link and some parts that seem relevant to this thread. I agree that facts should be the basis of any argument so we might as well start with the actual body to disspell any misconceptions. The problem I found with most laws is that they don’t give specific enough information so they can be interpreted in many ways; however, they all start with a direction. So if the current H-1B is about “come do a job that nobody here can do and go home when you’re done” is the body text (which I suspect it is) then it’s hard to argue those points and say “I should be able to stay as long as I want once the job I came to do completes” and “I should be able to compete against others who can do the job because I think I can do it better.”

            I’d love to know if there are other details that can help explain why this is a “guest” program rather than an immigration program.

          • EagleCrest

            Rob S. You requested a specific link to the bill/law. I am not a lawyer, I have not read the law nor do I claim any specific expertise on the issue. One could Google for more details; however, I am discussing based on what I have been told and since I have worked for Indian offshore companies that hire and sponsor H-1B visa holders I do have some familiarity. If I am wrong in my understanding I would appreciate correction.

            You make a good point in that we really need to make sure we are discussing/arguing the actual law and not just anecdotal information that is wrong. From Wikipedia (not definitive but a good starting point):

            The H-1B is a non-immigrant visa in the United States under the Immigration and Nationality Act, section 101(a)(15)(H). It allows US employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. If a foreign worker in H-1B status quits or is dismissed from the sponsoring employer, the worker must either apply for and be granted a change of status to another non-immigrant status, find another employer (subject to application for adjustment of status and/or change of visa), or leave the US.

            The regulations define a “specialty occupation” as requiring theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge in a field of human endeavor[1] including but not limited to biotechnology, chemistry, architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, medicine and health, education, law, accounting, business specialties, theology, and the arts, and requiring the attainment of a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent as a minimum[2] (with the exception of fashion models, who must be “of distinguished merit and ability”).[3] Likewise, the foreign worker must possess at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent and state licensure, if required to practice in that field. H-1B work-authorization is strictly limited to employment by the sponsoring employer.

            A few key things stand out in this to me:

            – It is a non-immigrant visa
            – It is intended for temporary hirings
            – It is related to highly specialized requirements and knowledge/skills
            – It is strictly limited to employment by the sponsoring employer.

            All of these things are what Samwise is addressing. In effect he is saying “I am here on an H-1B visa, but I don’t like the terms I agreed to and now you need to change these terms so I can be happy”.

            While this could be an understandable POV, it is hardly a reason for people to support it. In other words there will be those who feel sorry for him, but those of us that believe if you accept a circumstance then you have no standing to complain about it and we do not feel sorry for him. I think we see that playing out here and what we are really seeing is Samwise whining that people don’t support his cause.

    • “Fact 1: The US NEEDS foreign skilled workers to remain competitive in the world. – Do the US schools, universities and colleges not produce enough suitably skilled people to maintain a competitive knowledge-based economy? ”

      Indeed, that is opinion. I could just as easily say that India and China and even Iceland NEED foreign skilled workers to remain competitive. Why don’t the India workers work in Indian and the China workers work in China since those countries are so desperate for workers that they are unable to stay competitive?

      Further, who is the US competing against that they “need to remain competitive”? (Is it India? China? Russia? England? Mexico? Japan? Botswana?) If the US is competing with itself, then it doesn’t NEED any foreigners since it would create a level playing field if none were allowed to work here and the competition would remain the same.
      That goes back to question of why are the visa programs created…and some of the answers are that there’s a shortage of US talent (which most of us don’t believe) or that the immigrants are cheaper (which I’ve found is not always the case) or that maybe the foreign advocates are better at lobbying Congress than the un-organized tech workers, or ???

  32. Richard Walter

    As a US citizen by birth, I have a different take on the H1-B “problem”. Reflecting back to the times at the start of my career, when a new need for technical people arrived, companies retrained their people in the new skills needed by company by in house courses, supporting college level retraining by tuition reimbursement, and by on-job-training.
    When these special VISA’s were instituted, companies embraced this new quick, cheap, labor force which positively affected their financial bottom lines. This has had the effect of making US technical workers obsolescent with old skills no longer prized in the marketplace thus adding them to the unemployed and underemployed. Loyalty to ones company, which I believe is a good thing, unfortunately is a thing of the past.
    Let the foreign worker seek the right to employment here by seeking citizenship through the normal channels using country by country quotas that are in place and serve our country well.

  33. Karidrgn

    After reading this informative article and comments, have following ideas. 1. I agree the cost to the should be higher if they are employing non citizens to work for them. This be not in the form of higher wages, but ina fee or tax that goes to fund higher education for an American.

    This can be applied to any type of worker and gives employers incentive to find local.
    I agree that visas not tie someone to a specific company, and that we need to fix the process of getting greencards and citizenship so that threes not such a backlog.
    We need to fix our tax laws so that a company doesn’t get tax break our make higher profits when they outsource jobs.

    To fix this we to get more involved. Democracy with you-tag you’re it

  34. Observer

    From JJ comments:

    “ While I can sympathize with the comments of your writer regarding the plight of H1B’s, such as layoffs, bad decisions about housing, long waits for documentation, starting a company, etc. etc.
    I am basically not impressed. Many of us have such trials and tribulations but that is part of being alive.

    You should face the same employment risks that US citizens do each day.”

    I couldn’t agree more with you JJ !

    I also support the comments from ‘eaglecrest’, ‘superdave’, SK, Bob Anderson, autocorrect and ‘unomanual’.

  35. i can see from the perspective of guest worker. Imagine if I found a job oversees that paid me half million dollars – wouldn’t I be excited and put my ticket into lottery to try to be one of the lucky ones to travel there? guest workers come from much poorer countries usually, and to be paid 60,000$ for them is often the equivalant of an american worker earning 500,000$ in terms of perception and attitude. That is why it’s so difficult to compete, because this perception and psychology. But I have noticed that as these Indian tech workers work here long enough, they too become ‘Americanized’ in there perceptions, and some of them start to cry foul about low salaries even moreso than American workers such as myself. Ie, at my last job I was happy to have the job and my salary ; whereas many of the H1b workers were constantly complaining amongst each other about the poor salaries (which were only 30% less than average of other companies). I was paid equally or less than they were. The managers were all american men with strange attitudes to their ‘captives’. I would agree to some level about their mentality: their mentality was similar to a master-to-endentured-servant mentality. Because I was there, I also felt like endentured servant, and I am paid the same or less than them. But let’s be honest though, they are still being paid huge salary compared to the average wage in America – it can hardly be called endentured servant. Those american managers actually loved these guest workers and sometimes felt to me as though they treated them like their favored son’s and daughters, but they never heard that sometimes their favorite children cursed them behind their backs. Also, I found those guest workers are bonded by their roots to india and there is no way for me to be a true colleague to them – they think they are smartest and american people are dumb and lazy. They are very professional and do what is needed to maintain their jobs, wheras American workers don’t feel as much pressure because to lose job doesn’t equal deportation!! Therefore there is a rivalry, and if anyone says they are friends, it is just posturing. I am really sorry to say this last statement about Indian people, but I guess I too would be that way if I travelled to another country and could only find a handful of American people who shared in common with me a common-culture. multiculturalism has failed for me. i would not mind it if I could find a place within this system, but so far I haven’t. to read this might seem i despise Indian people, but if anything this kind of article written by H1b has helped to open dialog for us to understand each other better. Because now it is trend that in western countries fewer graduates are interested in higher education. We in America must learn to be competitive again. but what a good feeling it must have been to work in America before it was so competitive and there was camraderie and sense of togetherness. This attidue now also has to do with rise of corporate greed, and these mega corporations stripping away and buying out all these small companies, and not to mention the policiies. For example, why it has to be so complicated and costly for an employer to hire someone?? they must pay 20,000$ or more to bring someone on… Truth is, our salaries were over-inflated and still are. Most of these jobs as JAva or .NET developer could be easily done by anyone off the street. only 20% of the programming jobs require real talent.

    • EagleCrest

      PTW, you still miss the point! “guest workers come from much poorer countries usually, and to be paid 60,000$ for them is often the equivalant of an american worker earning 500,000$ in terms of perception and attitude.” Of course, but this isn’t a guest worker program where people from outside the country come to work; H-1B is specifically for workers who can do what no one else can. Therefore, your whole point is moot; you should never have been allowed here under an H-1B visa given the circumstances you suggest.

      “American workers don’t feel as much pressure because to lose job doesn’t equal deportation!! ” No they just lose their homes and cannot go back to India and a much lower cost of living with the savings developed in this country. But your point is even more invalid because you should never have been here “just to work” you should only have been here for a specific period of time to do a job no one else could. Thus, if you were smart, you would recognize when your time would be up and plan for your return. From the perspective of the original intent of H-1B visas, the program is no longer valid and should be ended. Thus you will never get an assignment here and will never have the disappointment of deportation. Win-Win for all but the greedy corporate types; and who should care about them!

      “Truth is, our salaries were over-inflated and still are.” Again this is true, but the role of H-1B visas has nothing to do with correcting this issue, it has been abused in order to address this. Again we see the program should be scraped and people like you will need to enter the country through the appropriate process and visas. Also recognize that corporate leaders have even more over-inflated compensation and part of that is “earned” from beating down the “over-inflated” salaries of which you speak.

      Bottom line, despite any issues you have with the enforcement of H-1B visas; you have no justification and are getting more than you should have in the first place. Perhaps you should be grateful rather than bitter.

      • INDIAN H1 Consultant

        I know it’s over a year and half old and it’s bit (or may be a lot) weird to bump it up. Yet some of these outrageous and complete bull xxit comments evoked the response these were begging for.

        First of all for all the suxxers, I’m on Indian nationality, citizen of India and work here on the specialty occupation H1 visa. Does it bother. Hell, let it be!

        @eaglecrest or whatever-
        Have you even understood the points this PTW guy tried to raise? Apparently none, though I of course don’t agree to what PTW spewed.

        First of all, every so called western or developed country has looted immense wealth from the original Rich countries in Africa, and from India, and China.

        These western buggers approached as beggars on the shores of these Rich countries, and later caused plight and nuisance to the original native people of each countries. These muggers didn’t just plunder their citizens’ of their wealth but also wrecked havoc by causing massacre of those civilizations.

        So who originally is poor? Of curse these plunderers, and now so called “Developed Countries”. So don’t shout foul and mind it well that India was never a poor country but almost entire Europe, including England sure was. America had been a fertile soil belonging to the natives, Indians. So they are real Americans, not you or me.

        With that cleared and out of the way, thus each of us here in the US of A is an immigrant, whether direct or indirect, regardless of whether you agree or disagree. So stop cribbing!

        Next, yes H1 definitely allows not just corporations to profit but also benefits consultants like me who can charge hefty premiums, most of the times around 150%, over the so called “talented” us citizens!

        Why? Because you lazy folks never cared to educate yourselves, kept abreast of latest skills and thus, we’re needed to build and repair your house.

        So of course, we will for sure command and feel justified to demand this premium. I take pride in my work and I create “stuff” which, sadly for you losers (and good for me), none of the so called “talented” Natives (or otherwise) “Americans” are able to do. So yes, I’m better and yes whether you like ot or hate it, I will ask and get the premium.

        I have observed that most of the folks commenting on this forum understand and support this view or me and other H1s like me commanding a higher premium. So my comment or remarks are really not intended for you. I’m not here to hurt anyone’s sentiments, but I felt hurt when guys who appeared to have mediocre opinions and views tried to debunk something which works, at least partially!

        I’m in complete agreement and support of those expressing opinions to have H1 consultants move freely and command 50% or even higher premiums. I’m quite sure that even if I’m drawing such premiums, my quality and skills speak for itself, unless tomorrow an American snatches this job, and I’m fine with that.

        I won’t mind or feel bad if I’m outpaced and ousted by a competent professional. But I will openly oppose each of you lazy fat axx “citizens” who considers such mid and higher 6 fig. paying jobs his (or her) birth-right. No way!

        It’s not to imply that I never worked with talented Americans. This Beautiful and my Karma-land has as much been blessed as my Mother-land India, and I’m happy that fortunately it’s not been invaded like India, well except the “settlers”.

        I’ve been lucky to have worked with some of The Best crop of the American populace, colleagues who were truly brilliant. I would be lying if I don’t mention that in specific instances, they even exhibited better experience than me.

        But, and folks this is Very Important, I’ve been beating them hands down in almost every situation when what mattered was creativity, intellect and ability to judiciously apply mathematical and statistical skills to derive solutions.

        You guys too are free to do that, and I’ll encourage you do so. Automatically and hopefully, there won’t be any need for us to help you rebuild “your home”.

        I’m sure those who understand will appreciate and agree to my point. However Dear Haters, you’re free to dislike. That’s what I like the most about my Karma-land, the US of A!

        • Eaglecrest

          “Who are YOU to decide that only a child of a citizen or green card will be citizen?” What is it about citizens having a right to determine whom they let into their country do you not get? What exactly makes you think you have a right to citizenship? Can an American go to India and just take a job from Indians? If so then the answer to the problem of poor Indian support centers would be to send unemployed Marketing degreed people to India to man the call centers. Cost of living in India is lower so the cost of these American assets would be much lower than having them work in the US. Why doesn’t that model work? Could it be that India would never allow American to sent workers there an take jobs from Indians.

          We have plenty of qualified citizens in the US and only need to mobilize them and send you ungrateful Slumdog Millionaires back to India. There are plenty of Asian Indians that are grateful to be given a chance we need none of you who feel you have rights that do not exist.

          “Remember, ONLY people who’ve the real birthright are the INDIANS.” Get serious. There is no such thing. The original so called native Americans are believed to have migrated from Asia. Perhaps they too displaced other indigenous citizens. India’s Cast system is based on birth right, I think you might find a good number of your fellow countrymen who do not agree with your opinions on birthrights. let us not forget that the history of mankind is all about people migration and taking territory from those who they could. Some native American groups pushed others out of their lands, African groups pushed out other and sold them into slavery, a long history in Asia is based on forced migrations and slavery. Get a life and some reality. Then go back to India where you never had it so good.

        • Eaglecrest

          Seriously, someone with a name like INDIAN H1 (screaming caps no less) is going to try and mock Eaglecrest as a monicker?

          Perhaps if you took some time to proof read your comments they would be intelligible or are you just unable to actually speak real American English.

          “Have you even understood the points this PTW guy tried to raise? Apparently none, though I of course don’t agree to what PTW spewed.” What are you talking about? I don’t see where you attempt to correct any misunderstanding that you may want to imply; you don’t even show how my comments are incorrect or outside the realm of discussion. Instead you show great ignorance and disrespect to the country of which you seem to want to become a member; and you wonder why current citizens have no desire to welcome you.

          Why ignorant (see I am trying to explain my positions), because the discussion about H1B is about a legal immigration issue. H1B’s has a particular reason for existence and they are trying to be morphed into another purpose. Try reading the laws and maybe you will understand better (oh, how insensitive of my, of course you have already proven an inability to comprehend, which of course calls in to the legitimacy that you are here because you offer a skill we cannot get in this country. If you cannot even understand the written language how exactly can you be a superior resource?). Let me also assure you that the lack of your future presence in this country would not in any way affect our future, regardless of what Bill Gates or others have to say. I am certainly willing to take the risk of proving it by sending you home..

          There is nothing about the H1B process that has to do with the needs of the applicant, only the needs of the employer. So everything PTW complains about is irrelevant to the issue of this visa mechanism. There are other immigration mechanisms and maybe he should try one of them. It seems like the overbearing issue you and he are really trying to raise is your belief that you deserve to be admitted to this country. That is a different issue.

          As to that issue, I personally am against your admission to this country and think you should be sent back immediately. My ancestors came here and worked their way up. They didn’t have a chance to complain about the problem of buying a middle class house because of the issue of short term employment; they couldn’t afford those houses in the first place! To try and compare yourself with the immigrant waves that came before you is an insult to my ancestors and most all of the rest of this country.

          PTW though seems rather reasonable and I would certainly welcome him/her. I can only assume that is what you mean by your comment “Apparently none, though I of course don’t agree to what PTW spewed”, since you fail to identify the basis of this comment.

          No one need go further that you concluding comment to see the fulness of your ignorance “However Dear Haters, you’re free to dislike. That’s what I like the most about my Karma-land, the US of A!”

          Let’s look at your comments:

          “I take pride in my work and I create “stuff” which, sadly for you losers (and good for me), none of the so called “talented” Natives (or otherwise) “Americans” are able to do.”

          “First of all, every so called western or developed country has looted immense wealth from the original Rich countries in Africa, and from India, and China.”

          “These western buggers approached as beggars on the shores of these Rich countries, and later caused plight and nuisance to the original native people of each countries. These muggers didn’t just plunder their citizens’ of their wealth but also wrecked havoc by causing massacre of those civilizations.”

          These poorly articulated comments seethe with hatred. In fact I am personally appalled that any of my countrymen would consider compensating you to the level you claim; I refuse to believe there are no others capable of performing your job in this country.

          As I have mentioned in another reply to you, human kind has been taking from others since the beginning of time. No country or culture that has ever graced this planet has been more gracious or munificent than the “US of A” (perhaps I am using too big of words for you). Let’s just ask your Pakistani neighbors how wonderful they find you Indians. We also can see how generous you have been to the Kashmiri people who may think much like you. Hell let’s just look at a list of disputed territories with India, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_disputed_territories_of_India. Perhaps we should look through the long history of India and China to see how they “looted immense wealth from the original” inhabitants of various lands. Yours is a fools argument laced in ignorant thought.

          Wouldn’t your superior talents be much better plied toward the reformation of your own country? My ancestors we very pleased to just have a chance, they left their countries never to return and never looked back. The loved their new country and truly became Americans, not Indian-Americans, Subcontinent Asian-Americans, Euro-Americans; just Americans. That my “friend is what gives me the right to express my opinion that you should just get the hell out of here!

  36. lllake

    I am not impressed with whining – some of the issues brought up here are valid but most of them are nonsense in that talented H1Bs reap rich rewards and have no problem jumping from job to job. After 3 years of watching our company go overboard with H1B hiring – we watch them arrive, immediately marry,have children and settle in here – we don’t know of many who go back voluntarily and have seen many become very savvy at switching jobs – with good planning and contacts, they jump from place to place easily – companies who want them facilitating the process.
    In 2010 our company started bringing the H1Be workers and at the same time setting up operations in India to do most of our coding and testing there. I remember clearly our IT VP told us they were just bringing in coders, that the Americans who had created our systems would still be in charge as architects, team leads, managers and such – We see them arrive, immediately marry and have children and settle in here – we don’t know of many who go back voluntarily and have seen many become very savvy at switching jobs – with good planning and contacts, they jump from place to place easily – companies who want them facilitating the process.

    Today we no longer own our systems. This concerns those of us who understand what it is to have the healthcare data of the millions of Medicare members in the hands of H1Bs and a large contingent of offshore workers.

    Most of us feel this is a tremendous betrayal of our country because our company does very little to recruit or train tech workers – they simply don’t want to use Americans because labor laws make Americans tough to get rid of and benefits for Americans are costly. Corporate greed is promoting the push towards utilizing H1Bs when there are Americans who could fill the entry level roles as well as foreigners. The truth is thousands of technically adept college students who are currently jobless could enter the work force as testers, analysts and coders. They would be thrilled to a make the $40 to $50 thousand a year that the H1Bs are taking home.

    The underside of the what my company has promoted is that technical careers in the US are not encouraged by many parents because the job market has become so dicey and unfair to Americans. Indians receive free education and assistance in maintaining their programming certifications – things Americans don’t routinely get for free. Indian workers don’t pay mortgages and often live a half dozen to an apartment – another way to undercut their expenses.

    It started in the late 90’s when Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and others pushed the myth that we didn’t have enough workers to fill the needs – but of course neglected to say that they were doing nothing to assist Americans with their technical careers – most corporations resent American techies as they see them as overpaid – never mind that our workers have to pay for their own educations. So I am not really concerned about the woes of H1Bs – I have seen bad H1Bs released from our area only to pop up somewhere else in our company – while Americans go unhired.

    • Joe Blocks

      I agree 100%. I regard the original post as provocative. These guys (most are men as we all know) act like the Senators and Congressman are their representatives! Check out any of the well known immigration websites for proof of that. Just listen to Wadhwa as he derides fellow Indian Ron Hira for being out of touch with the needs of Silicon Valley (they were debating on PBS). The Tech corps are lying thru their teeth about the shortage of workers and they know it. Why have salaries and rates stagnated for a decade if there is such a shortage? The Tech Corps want H1Bs because they are cheap, indentured (work long hours and can’t escape until/if their promised GC shows up), they are also young AND they are Indian which works because so many of the people they will be working with are themselves Indians.

      • INDIAN H1 Consultant

        Guys cool down. Most of the opinions you expressed are just one side of coin, may be of those H1 who shouldn’t be here in the first place.

        I’ve been living in Manhattan since last 3-4 years. I do not own this apartment. My rented 2 BR apartment costs me close to 5Gs per month. Mind you so is the case for most of the apartments in my “hood”.

        From what I’ve observed over the past 3-4 years, both the rentals and my salary have been steadily increasing. Though, rentals are getting bit dearer now and might outpaced the increase in salary. But hey, thanks to H1, I can easily switch jobs. My skills are in demand, and there are quite a few decent sized employers who can easily pay equal or bit higher too.

        So what you have observed might be valid for novice H1s, but is certainly not the complete picture.

  37. DNord

    I have been following this for some time and have seen it spiral out of control. This program has been around now some 30 to 35 years and don’t you think that our employers, universities and specifically HR execs could have found a way to use the technical talent that has developed over that time? When it started there was such a shortage because there were very few that had the cutting edge knowledge already. HR execs got lazy in wanting someone “today” that had the “exact training\experience” required. The American workforce has a tremendous capacity to change course given half a chance. I have been through several industries like aerospace that needed huge amounts of new technology and then largely disappeared. Those workers that learned how to make highly precise parts and do new techniques of assembly didn’t lose the ability to make changes. It is a lifelong skill and truly the most important skill a human can have. Many of the programming languages in development now didn’t exist 5-10 years ago and probably won’t be in demand for many more years. Somebody will have to learn the new replacement. Do we turn out the current programmers and hire a whole new bunch while the current workers try to find work at decreasing rates of pay?
    The premise of paying the H1-B workers a special premium will really speak to the problem of them being tremendously talented and necessary to the success of a project. If they are not, and a current worker or unemployed tech sector worker however old can be shown to do the task, that would be beneficial to all.
    Today’s worker is expected to be a part of the workforce for up to 50 years but the HR point of view is that only the first 15-20 are worth counting for new technologies. That is absolutely wrong! After you have learned 3-6 new things in the course of your life, it becomes easier to learn continuously for the rest of your life.
    I think the H1-B program is way past it’s usefulness if indeed it ever had a true benefit for the overall economy.

  38. For all of you defending the H1b visa program because you have fallen in love with your H1b visa coworker – who cares? What does that have to do with the merits of the program? It is a fraud. As if there are not enough beautiful women in America – you have to date one of your little asian or Indian co-workers? So many of you hapless white guys who can’t get dates need this program – it is your salvation in the dating world because you were turned down by the choosier American girls. Other than that the program is worthless.

  39. Boycott

    So, we have an article for-H1-B visa written by an H1-B worker. Is Dice going to have an article for against H1-B visa? Seems like it’s only fair to hear both sides.

    • Joe Blocks

      I doubt it. They closed down their forums basically by adopting censorship policies that prevented anyone from really discussing it. Everyone left their forums as a result.

    • Mark Feffer

      Gents, if you look at the article we include links to all of the stories we posted as part of this special report. You’ll find articles interviews with the head of the Programmer’s Guild and a UC professor who’s a noted opponent of the program. So, yes, we do have information from those who oppose the program.

    • R. Lawson

      That is factually wrong. Unless by “very high” you mean a single digit percentage. Most of the body shops sponsor few to none. Hira’s research indicated single digit sponsorship for perm visas was the norm.

      The problem with this whole debate is that too many people are using anecdotal information. Silicon Valley doesn’t look hard outside of Silicon Valley for workers but executives there almost always claim a shortage. I run a user group in Florida – never once has a recruiter from Silicon Valley ever called me for a referral of a member of for myself. I get these calls routinely from local recruiters.

      Then you have people like yourself who say things like “from my experience …[insert anecdotal finding here]” but half of the time your experience doesn’t mirror the norm at the national level.

      In the interest of preventing wrong information about this issue, it would help if you would cite a source because otherwise we are just putting our finger to the wind. If you believe your experience is normal please try to find some solid evidence to back it up.

      Ron Hira’s research indicates dismal conversion rates from H-1b to perm.

      • EagleCrest

        R.Lawson, you may be correct in your assertion of the statistics and facts are important; however, please not in the initial article Samwise comments “Most H-1B workers look forward to getting their green card – some friends tell me that you feel like you’re let out of a cage once you do.” There definitely seems to be a sense that H-1B is seen as a pathway to an extended stay and possibly citizenship. Since that isn’t the intent of the program I think we can all agree that current practices call for a total review of the efficacy of the program.

        Perhaps as Samwise and other foreigners desire the visa process should be enhanced to give them more options and benefits; or perhaps as many others have stated here it should be abolished or curtailed. I do think there is a lot of misleading information being put out by both the foreigners, as seen in Samwise’s comments, and the employers, as you have shown here.

        • Some things I have learned…

          1) H-1B visa is a worker visa for immigrants with specials skills who are hired to be here for a specific period of time; if the job completes early, the worker should return (or otherwise try to re-apply)
          2) There are other programs similar to H-1B (like L-1) which offer similar employment opportunities
          3) The longer a person is in a job, the more sense of entitlement he/she feels.

          To that last point, that’s an observation on life; when applied to H-1B visa holders, the longer they are here, the more they feel they should be entitled to all of the things that citizens get, regardless of the impact to citizens.

          Indeed, citizens seem to feel that the immigrant worker programs are abused (probably due to their loopholes or amnesties) while foreign workers seem to lack the understanding of the impact of their appearance in the country and assume that they are doing a great service to the country (which in some cases they may but in more cases they are not–due to the abuses that they are probably not creating, but are part of the complexities built into the system and some groups trying to take advantage of those complexities.)

          • EagleCrest

            I believe you have misstated the facts in point 1). It is a non-immigrant visa not an immigrant visa. This may seem like a small point, but in fact it is huge and I also believe the core of the discussion here. By being a non-immigrant visa, the worker has no right to expect immigration status; in fact they have every reason to believe they will be returned to their country without the granting of such status. In part that is a complaint of Samwise (clearly implied if not stated).

            You make a good point about expectations. It should always be remember that just because we have an expectation, if it unreasonable then we have little right to complain when it isn’t met. I believe part of Samwise’s expectations are based on the sloppiness with which the program has been run in recent years. While I can completely understand why he might expect that to continue to benefit him and others, I would hope he and the others could understand why many would find it wrong and look to make sure the slop is cleaned up.

            Lastly, I doubt that Samwise and others do not understand the effect they have on our country and citizens, it is just not to his advantage to recognize it. I was speaking recently with a senior manager in an Indian outsourcing company and he mentioned that he found it amazing that the US government even allow US jobs to be outsource. He recognizes the negative impact it has on our country, but as long as he can profit from it then why shouldn’t he. I suspect the same is with Samwise and the others, even if they will not admit it.

  40. Joe Blocks

    Great for American IT workers as cheap H1Bs get free training by Korps on Hadoop and Big Data, then get Green Cards and hire other H1Bs and train them, leaving US workers out in the cold.
    This happened before.

  41. Irina

    I truly don’t understand what precisely the authour is complaining about. I am an American developer and having a really hard time finding a decent job. He on an H1 visa has a job, is paid handsomely, AND complaining! My advice to him – grow up and be grateful that you have taken a job that I could have gotten!

  42. Wadya

    One thing to note that H1B Guest workers pay all US Taxes – State Tax, Federal Tax, Social Security Tax, Medicare Tax, etc. Also, they buy car insurance, health insurance, renters insurance, etc. They rent houses/apartments. They buy things here. So they contribute to US Economy. In a way they contribute to US economy, health care and retirement of US Citizens. If they do not get Green Card (Permanent Resident Card) and if they go back then do not get any old age benefits (Social Security, Medicare, etc.).

    • Oddly enough, with the insolvency of the SS and medical systems, I don’t expect most currently working Americans under the age of 50 to ever get those benefits either.
      As for the taxes, everyone visiting the US benefits from those, including road improvements and police and fire departments.

      So those benefits you are “losing” are the same benefits that most Americans are probably going to lose.

  43. EagleCrest

    Samwise, you sent me a number of replies. Since they were to the same posting I am not sure why you split them up and my responding to them separately seems disjointed to me. Also since some time have gone by since you sent them I am going to try and respond in what I hope will be a new comment thread.

    ““Samwise’s story is a real tear-jerker” – this is not a tear-jerker, nor is it meant to generate sympathy.” Perhaps you didn’t set out saying “I want to solicit sympathy for myself”; however, to suggest it isn’t meant to generate sympathy is either ignorant or dishonest. You are here working, being paid well and have every reason to be happy with your circumstances, except that you cannot be certain how long this will last. You have made no claim and have shown no proof that you are not being treated exactly as the H-1B visa regulations require. You want to see changes that will benefit you in this situation. If you aren’t looking for a sympathetic response then exactly what are you looking for?

    You discuss how you are spending the money you are making here and living well. That is great for you, but it is also your choice. I recently replied to RobS with a quote from Wikipedia on H-1B visas and you continue to miss the point that I will make again here:
    1. H-1B is a non-immigrant visa. It is not meant as a way for you to immigrate into this country.
    2. It is a temporary visa. You have no right to expect to make long term plans.
    3. It is for highly specialized work skills. While yours are specialized you do not explain why they are highly specialized and something only you and perhaps a very small number of people could do. When challenged to defend this you cop-out by saying you do not have to defend this, but only to the US government. Legally that may be true, but in a discussion you do have an obligations to defend yourself if you want others to support you. Thought to be fair, if you cannot defend yourself in this forum, you could cause yourself legal problems with your visa status so we can understand your reservations, though that also tends to prove my point.
    4. The worker is strictly tied to the sponsoring organization.

    The simple matter is that you are here on the wrong visa. All you care about is that you are here, and I can certainly appreciate your POV on this matter. What the rest of us are saying is that you shouldn’t be here or that you really shouldn’t have a right to be here on this program or that the program itself should be dropped or its administration drastically overhauled. If you are as bright as you want us to believe then you need to admit all of these POV’s are not only as legitimate as yours but are better POVs for the US citizens.

    Additionally let me correct a misconception you started in your rant about being here legally, having had your paperwork checked out and thus don’t have to defend your status. Let us recall that you made the claim that if a worker could be shown to violate the intent then they should be reported (forgive me from not looking up the exact quote and if I am misrepresenting you please feel free to point that out). So I am using your logic to require you to defend your position here as meeting the intent of the program. You seem to be arguing that even if you don’t meet the intent of the requirements there are those who are worse than you. This is a poor argument.

    You also ask “Why then, would you lay all the blame on the workers, and not on the companies that bring them here, or the government agencies that approve them.” Who exactly is doing that? By demanding that the government better regulate and enforce the visa process aren’t we holding the government responsible? The simple fact is that these actions will of course have an effect on visa applicants and possibly visa holders.

    As to hold the companies responsible, what exactly do you want us to do? The way a business works is by doing all it can to be successful within the bounds of controls (by the way the same can be said for the workers and H-1B’s as well). The correction needs to be at the control level; that is how a capitalist system works.

    Then you claim I “also said that the H1B program should be stopped.” I would appreciate the exact quote of where I said that. On a lengthy reply thread like this it is difficult to go back and find exact quotes so it is possible that I have said that, but I believe all I have ever stated was that the program is being abused and its administration needs to be overhauled. I may have stated and can completely agree with the notion that perhaps it has outlived its need and should be terminated or perhaps replaced with something more efficient.

    Off of that comment you give us the circumstance where a worker leaves the US and takes his job back to India whereby the US lose his local buying power and taxes. This is entirely fallacious. First off the concept you portray is that the US is better for having foreigners working here paying taxes and buying things while local citizens are unemployed cannot pay taxes, cannot buy things, including housing, food and transportation. Your logic here is nonsense.

    There is an additional scenario that you do not acknowledge. How about if the US company sent a US citizen to India to do the work at the wage you suggest. They too would live large on that reduced salary, the company would be employing an American and that American would have a chance to see other parts of the world and best of all you Indians wouldn’t have to suffer by leaving your country. You could stay home close to your families. Of course we all know this wouldn’t happen because the Indian government and the Indian people would never allow it. So we see this point is utter nonsense and it detracts from any intelligence you might wish us to perceive in your argument.

    In another reply you stated “You also seem to think that “H1B workers should NOT be allowed to change jobs at will, because they are here for a specific job, and the specific job only” … I don’t understand why you’d think that workers who come to this country should be tied to a “specific project” and sent back when they are done.”

    First off yes I do think that H-1B visa holders should not be allowed to change jobs, refer back to the four point I made above as to what an H-1B visa worker is here for; your second point is a completely different issue. There are other ways to come here and work and you are clearly here on the wrong type of instrument based on your complaints. I mentioned your comment earlier where you asked why “we” blame the worker and not the government or the employer, in this case if you make a decision to come and work here on the wrong type of visa, who else do you think should be blamed other than you the worker?

    You do discuss the L-1 visa and suggest it is some form of servitude; however, if we look to Wikipedia again we see that an L-1 visa “is a non-immigrant visa, and is valid for a relatively short amount of time, from three months (for Iran nationals) to one year (Mexico), two years (Brazil, Russia, China), to five years (India, Japan, Germany), based on a reciprocity schedule.[1] With extensions, the maximum stay is seven years.[2] L-1 visas are available to employees of an international company with offices in both the United States and abroad.”

    So it appears that your complaint would be about Indian companies who bring Indian employees here with threats of sending them back if they do not do as they are told. This clearly is an issue for India to address as much and possibly more than an issue for the US to address. Funny you didn’t mention that part of the story.

    Your last reply started with “Sorry if you are exhausted reading all my posts, I was similarly exhausted reading yours.” I am not sure exactly what quote of mine to which you are referring, but this seems rather snippy in what you seem to want to claim is an exchange of ideas.

    Then you try and make the case that the H-1B visa process should be opened up to allow for a level marketplace. Again you show an amazing lack of logic, comprehension, and/or honesty.

    I do not know how to explain this to you any better; the H-1B visa program was never intended as a vehicle for bring in foreign labor to drive down labor costs. It’s only intent was to make it easier for US companies to find labor which did not exist in this country and could only be found outside our borders. If you do not or will not understand this then no matter of discussion or explanation will ever satisfy you.

    Secondly, since the the entire purpose of the H-1B visa legislation is to allow for highly specialized workers to be brought in and your entire argument is based only on economic factors based on salary costs, you prove the point that your H-1B visa position is invalid.

    What you really seem to want is to change how the US immigration policy is run. Since you stated in your article that you didn’t come here to become a citizen and are not sure you ever want to become a citizen why exactly should we, the US, accommodate you? You seem to feel that it would level the playing field, but how exactly does it do that? It makes things better for you, but as you can see from responses here it does nothing for US citizens.

    Perhaps citizenry is not an issue you believe is important, but many of us do. However, if you really want to level the employment field then you would need to make sure that every country that had workers come to the US would allow just as free movement of US worker to their country.

    I have no doubt there are many college graduates that would love to go to foreign destination work for a few years at lower wages that were very high by local standards and then move back to the US at the wages you H-1B workers now get. If that were allowed how many or you Indians do you think would be working here? Be careful what you wish for!

    • Samwise

      I appreciate the time you have taken to lay out your views. I now see your point of view. Here’s my response-

      (a) If the H1b program was meant to be a purely non-immigrant program, there should be no provision for someone on H1B/L1B or any other non-immigrant visa to apply for a green card. It should be plainly stated to anyone who comes here on this visa – once the number of years alloted are up, they need to go back, irrespective of their situation. This will also be good for people like me, because we have a clear path to “non-citizenship”. No buying houses, gadgets etc., just save money and go back to your native country.

      (b) what the above would imply is that every year, 65000 H1B workers will be sent back (whose 6 years are now up). Businesses would be clear that the employees would be sent back once their time is up, so they should hire people at their own risk.

      (c) the only avenues left to immigrate to the US in this case(as far as I know) would be the family-based green card, or the green card lottery. Both programs, in my opinion, do not do any good to this country and are avenues for losers to become US citizens, but maybe that’s none of my business.

      The above is, essentially, the opposite of what I had said was the solution to the issues with the H1B program. I won’t comment on whether this is good or bad- I leave it to the readers of this forum, but the one thing about this option is that it will provide certain clarity to H1b employees and employers.

      • EagleCrest

        Ah Samwise, we see that understanding of the other brings about communications. We do not need to agree with each other to appreciate each’s POV; so I appreciate your response.

        As to your point a), I think you make a valid observation; however, please recognize that the US hasn’t been a country that looks to limit immigration, but one that looks to control it. Again this may seem like splitting hairs, but I believe it is extremely important. The US allows many immigrants in every year, but it cannot allow just anyone and everyone to come, thus it sets up controls as to who can come. Of course that naturally causes a limitation on the number that come, but any prevention is tied to control much more than prohibition.

        If you assume this line of thinking then just because someone is here on an H-1B visa they should not be prohibited from seeking green card status. Perhaps this thought process has helped to create some of the problems we are discussing here. Clearly along with immigration this country needs to re-examine the worker visa issue as they are inexorably tied together. I personally believe we profit greater as a nation from only allowing those who truly want to be citizens to gain it and thus by allowing for a better defined worker visa programs we can allow other in who can also benefit the country, yet not grant citizenship. Of course that doesn’t help your issue of paying taxes but not getting all the benefits. As to setting time limits etc. I again think you make a good point; going towards my comments of reviewing the current system and developing better refinements.

        As to comment b), this might be a very good idea for the new worker visa program. If the H-1B was changed as to goal then it might be an enhancement to that process as well. But recall that since the H-1B is not about letting in workers to swell the employment ranks but is about specialized labor, then your suggest has no direct bearing on the the current situation. In fact the best time line related approach to changing the current H-1B policy would be to require the US employer to develop the talent needed within the US workforce within X years and thus limit how long someone can be brought in. I don’t think this is really what you were shooting for, but does address the problems we have been discussing.

        Your point c) also has some merit. If one has to wait outside the country to get a green card to enter they might not be willing to do so. Clearly times have changed enough that we need to re-examine our immigration policy and that is being discussed now; however, in my opinion the discussion is currently asinine.

        The suggestion that we need to bring in Asians, S. Americans, Africans, etc. because Asians, S. Americans, Africans, etc. born here do not offer the ability to innovate that the immigrant does can only be considered asinine. There is a benefit to allowing others to come into our country, but people lose sight of our history. They point to how America has always been an immigrant nation and lose sight of the fact this is because it was so large and needed immigrants to fill it. We no longer have that problem and as I commented, it is ridiculous to suggest we need to have outsiders come in to innovate.

        All of this said I am not anti-immigrant nor am I unfeeling to your plight. I have just tried to point out that the problem is not with the H-1B visa system and your “complaints”/observations are really about the greater issue of immigration and guest worker systems and not H-1B. I do wish you and your family a happy, satisfying life, but I also wish the same for my fellow citizens.

  44. DineshXXX

    I generally try to avoid posting on an incendiary topic like this one, but I am in the mood right now so, what the heck. Author’s logic is flawed in quite a few places. Instead of nitpicking on them one by one, I will state my opinion tersely. H1B is largely about labor arbitrage. The whole ‘highly skilled’ and ‘shortage’ arguments are outright lies. What is true is this labor arbitrage game is driving away next generation of Americans from Engineering reasonably, so the real shortage is yet to come, it’s in the making. Just like the Military-Industrial-Complex in the context of war business we have the Academia-Industrial-Complex in this context. Finally, H1B pits American engineers and foreign born ones against each other in a gladiator fight to the lowest price. It sucks, pretty bad for both sides, really while companies have a gala time. One may ask if it really sucks so much then why work on H1B at all ? Well, for the same reason that – birds migrate from Sibera to South Asia in Winters and back in Summer, Europeans colonized the world, people have migrated, kingdoms have invaded on another throughout history and the world. Greener pastures, resources, livelihood. Maybe the visa should be scrapped altogether. Arguments I don’t buy – H1Bs are stealing our jobs, Americans are lazy, H1Bs are best and brightest, H1Bs, H1Bs, H1Bs, Americans, Americans…… My 0.02$ advise to all sides – life is not fair, get over it, keep up the good fight to live and let live. Ciao !

    • Well said. This discussion is moot unless all of the tech people can “guild” and fight the Goliaths that get Congress to do their bidding. Since I don’t see most tech people unionizing any time soon, the H-1B program is here to stay and will likely get even more-so until all people of the world (Americans, Indians, Chinese, etc) are sufficiently abused.

      The one ray of hope is that I see tech products getting worse and worse and when Apple falls, the others will go with them and true ingenuity and innovation will kick in once again…whoever can play that game will win until the pendulum flips back to the side of evil (okay, maybe not evil, but groups that have the clout to take advantage of others.

  45. “Those whose companies sponsored their green card in 2004 are most likely still working for the same employer, often at the same designation and pay scale. Imagine that — nine years at the same place with no promotion and hardly any pay hike.”

    Precisely. A huge advantage to the employer, regardless of employee pay, to have a captive.

  46. One factual error: PhDs, even from India and China, do not have to wait for green card. They just have to go through the regular processing time, which is few months.

    Otherwise, the article is very well summarized. I agree with the suggestion that visas should be tied to individuals and not employers. the six year period followed by immediate green card (on selective basis) is the most logical thing to do.

    • @YRK – you are referring to the EB1 process, I believe. There’s no guarantee that PhDs will be granted the EB1 category, which is basically reserved for people of extraordinary ability. Having a PhD increases your chances of qualifying for the EB1 category, but unless you have a stellar record, there are lots of denials for PhDs as well. These then have to wait in the regular GC queue (EB2) which takes years.

      • @ Samwise – I don’t think that is correct. With a phd, there is more chance of you being accepted in EB1 than not. You don’t need a stellar record. Most phds will have some publications by the time they graduate.
        I objected because the way you presented your point is wrong – “On top of this, the wait time has no relation to your skillset, education level or experience. You could be a Ph.D., or a co-founder of the next big Internet company. You’ll still need to wait in the same line as everyone else”
        its not the “same line” (EB1 vs EB2 vs EB3) In fact those categories are made so that they can differentiate based on skillset, education and experience. People on EB3 upgrade to EB2 based on experience.

  47. BK Beach 4X4

    The same argument has been raging since before the Internet fail of 2000. The same issues have been debated and the facts presented are as true today as fourteen years ago. The number 1 reason to replace a US candidate with a H1-B Visa worker is financial. The increase expected in the number of H1-B visas is another hand out to corporate America at the expense of US citizens with the talent and integrity to do the same work. If the matter was simply not being able to find the talent here in the US, then the H1-B Visa worker would be paid a premium for their services, such is not the case.

    I oppose the increase in H1-B Visa entrants but when they are hired they should be paid on parity with US workers, not paid less. This form of wage fixing by corporate America has gone on far to long.

  48. pondicherry

    Few comments I would like to make after reading this long post.

    People ( Workers including H1-B’s ) follow the paths which make their lives better.
    Currently there is labor arbitrage because the costs of living in different countries are different.
    Companies ( especially global ones ) use this arbitrage to save costs and increase profitability because the rules allow them just like using corporate tax haven territories.
    I think it is a global competitive world and we will have to live with it.
    What I do not understand is why there is a numerical limit on employment based visas/green cards total and based on country of origin and why this limit is miniscule as compared to higher limit based on family based visas and green cards. Do we say that because xyz living in another country is a nephew/great aunt…of someone living here then we should let them in?
    What makes America what it is? Why does it attract other people? How has that attraction changed over the centuries? Is it education/living standards/camadarie/safety?
    I also wonder how did it work when Europeans first colonized America three hundred years ago?
    Did they apply for visas from native americans?
    What is different between the periods from 1600 – 1700? 1700-1800? 1800-1900? 1900-2000? and 2000-2100? in terms of immigration and migration of population? I am only choosing five centuries.
    Also one more thing which I do not understand is this : Why is that 90-95% of fellow ships ( full scholarships ) in the top twenty grad schools in science and engineering go to students who are not born in the U.S? Should there be a US born gender/race and foreign nationality country quota instituted?
    Can the laws for employment of foreign based workers be made more clearer and transparent and red tape ( processing time by government agencies ) be made more efficient?
    Innovation ( and wealth ) comes from entrepreneurs who take risks, constantly are adapting on a global scale and are competing for the best talent they can get at the lowest cost.
    How do we make the American economy more efficient?
    Note : When we make American economy more efficient then the people who do not work their assess off or do not constantly push themselves up to learn and keep up with things on their own spare time will fall by the way side.
    Comfortable life styles will only come to people who struggle in the first forty years of their life and smartly plan and allocate for their later years when they cannot compete as aggressively in the market place like relocation and starting up in a different field or area of expertise.

  49. non-IT h1b worker

    I think there is common misconception that H1b is granted on the basis of lack of american worker. There is no such clause in the h1b law. There is no need to prove that there is no available american worker to hire an H1B.

    Americans, news flash! your politicians and businesses are screwing you like everywhere else in the world. The only difference is that in the rest of the world they know that they are being screwed.

    The Europeans never bothered about asking visa from other countries and they just looted and destroyed rich countries like India and China. We are at least asking for visa. And if you don’t give it to us never mind. Your businesses are going to leave you! It’s the truth. GE’s biggest research center is in Bangalore and Shanghai. Other big companies are following suite. Wake up you music majors who think you are qualified enough to make hiring or firing decision for an engineer.